We've been offered sweet corn from a road side stand that wasn't ready only once and that was from a couple neighborhood kids who got carried away with their picking. The next plant indicator that determines the order of fields to harvest is movement of the kernel milkline. This goes for sweet corn and roasting can tell when this happens by feeling the end of an ear. »Workers who are hand-harvesting should wear long sleeves and long pants for protection from the abrasive leaves, insect bites and sun burn.
Farmers plant broomcorn sometime between the middle of May and the middle of June. If a sweet, milky juice is released (milk stage) the corn is ready for harvest. Ideally the field to be harvested is uniform in development, but the reality is that uniformity is rarely achieved.
In addition to the corn crop, soybeans stressed by drought are dying prematurely and should also be harvested early. A large burner fan pumps air, sometimes over 200 degrees F, to dry the corn. As a result, the silage may have high levels of foul-smelling butyric acid, with a higher pH and high dry matter losses - in addition to poor feed quality, palatability and intake potential.
As far as companion plants, corn and potatoes do fine, although corn is a heavy feeder, while potatoes are medium feeders and do better without as much nitrogen (which encourages foliage rather than tuber formation). In addition, no-till reduces soil moisture loss early in the season so more water is available for corn growth later in the season.
Similarly, it can sometimes be difficult to accurately estimate whole-plant moisture from kernel milk-lines in frost-damaged corn. Other factors that can affect the quality of sweet corn include insect and disease damage and damage from hail, drought or other environmental conditions.
This is especially true for corn silage where whole kernels and cob pieces can be difficult to dry completely without burning the leaf tissue. Comparing this figure to the cost of heated air drying (with LP gas at $2.25 per How To Make Corn gallon) shows that $29.57 per acre is needed to remove 5 points of moisture from a bushel of corn, but $59.14 is needed to remove 10 points.
Early harvest of corn can cause another set of issues because of hot and dry conditions. We estimate that the average harvest window to shred, windrow, and bale corn stover will be 40 days after corn grain harvest, after which weather and soil conditions are often not conducive to field traffic and stover harvest.
A guide to identifying physiological maturity is to look for "black layer" formation in corn kernels. The corn material left on the ground protects the soil from erosion and returns plant mater to the ecosystem. Poor quality grain in the field will only deteriorate further as it is handled prior to storage.
The sugars in the kernels will begin to convert to starch after the ear is harvested or after the milk stage (R3) if left on the plant, which will reduce the sweetness and tenderness of the product. As a result, there will be gaps on that ear of corn where no kernels developed because they weren't fertilized.
Some farmers feel the best brush is harvested when the plant is in flower, or at most when the seed is only slightly formed. Even though the corn kernels are yellow, the cob from this field corn is red. Plus, finishing harvest earlier potentially gives you more time for post-harvest tillage and more through out clean up before the snow flies.