Harvest Timing Effect on Corn Yield and Moisture

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  • Determine the frequency and extent of yield loss if harvest is delayed.
  • Gain insight to variables that may affect yield loss when harvest is delayed.
  • Determine if there are geographic trends with some areas more prone to harvest loss.

Study Description


Locations: 18 sites in S.D., Minn. and Wisc.
Site Selection:   Large, uniform fields near bins to allow multiple harvests over time 
Harvest Timings:     Early (target moisture 25%) 
  Late (target moisture <20%) 

  • A portion of each trial field was harvested "early" with a target moisture around 25%.
  • The remaining portion of the field was harvested a week or more later with final harvest targeted moisture less than 20%.
  • Yield was measured using a weigh wagon to eliminate possible variation due to yield monitor calibration or grain sensitivity.


  • Average corn yield was slightly greater with early harvest than late harvest.
    • Yield was greater with early harvest at 13 out of 18 locations.
    • The average yield difference between harvest timings across all locations was 2.9 bu/acre.
  • There were no apparent agronomic issues (extensive lodging, dropped ears, etc.) at any of the locations that would have caused lower yields at the later harvest timing.
  • Adjusted gross income was greater with late harvest due to reduced drying expenses with drier grain.
  • Average grain moistures were within recommended ranges for harvest (in most locations), so harvest and field losses were minimal.

Adjusted Gross Income Based on Average Yield and Grain Moisture with Early and Late Harvest
Grain Moisture
Early 203.4 25.2 $881
Late 200.5 22.1 $894
*AGI = Adjusted Gross Income/acre is calculated with a corn price of $4.75 per bushel.

Research conducted by Pioneer field agronomists and written by Aaron Prestemon as part of Pioneer Agronomy Science field trials.

2013 data are based on average of all comparisons made in 18 locations through December 2013. Multi-year and multi-location is a better predictor of future performance. Do not use these or any other data from a limited number of trials as a significant factor in product selection. Product responses are variable and subject to a variety of environmental, disease, and pest pressures. Individual results may vary.