While rains have kept farmers out of fields the last couple of days, harvest time is becoming more widespread in Elkhart County.
You can tell more about how a field looks from the cab of a combine than you can from the edge of the road, but most people don’t get the chance to climb up into a cab during the fall. Still, everyone who drives outside of any city limits in Elkhart County is likely to see cornfields this time of year.
What they may not know is that there’s an easy rule of thumb to see, even at highway speeds, whether a corn field is ready to harvest. That rule of thumb: Up or down?
While moisture content of the corn is the big deciding factor, and there are other factors that go into a decision about whether to start cutting, looking at the position of the ears gives a good indication of whether the corn’s ready. Once it is ready, the ears will drop down.
That position allows corn to remain on the stalk for a long time. In that position, the covering of the ears serves as a sort of tarp, allowing moisture to flow off of the ear without getting inside where it can rot the grain, explained Jeff Burbrink, horticulture educator with the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service in Elkhart County.
Starting around the middle of September, many more ears started to drop, and they’re a sign that the combines will become more and more visible shortly.