How do farmers deal with misplanted fields

I’ve been meaning to ask this for some time, but being it’s harvest time, and I still haven’t seen the field that prompted this question get harvested, I turn to you guys.

I see every once in a while where a field will have some issues going on where maybe a potato field has a couple corn stalks in it, I think that’s easy enough to take care of, but how do farmers deal with REALLY messed up crops.

There is a field I drive past every couple days, looks like it’s supposed to be soybeans, but has maybe 25-35% corn planted around it, and it’s not like the corn is in one spot either, it’s pretty evenly distributed amongst the soybeans.

So my questions are:

How does this happen?
How do they harvest it?

Those are called volunteer plants and they grow from seeds leftover from the previous harvest. They can be taken of by sending someone into the field to cut down the plants.

If you’re seeing a soybean field that’s 25% volunteer maize, that’s likely due to a malfunctioning or poorly-adjusted combine harvester. If your soybeans are glyphosate resistant but the maize was not, then control can be simple matter of spraying with Roundup, something you’d probably be doing anyway as a matter of course. If not, then you’ve got a more serious problem.

It may also be intentional. Farmers sometimes mix two crops together in the same field because the combination gets better results than growing either crop by itself.

When I was a kid in the 1970s, I heard about “walking beans” being done around the same time as corn detasseling, and this mainly consisted of kids going into field and pulling large weeds, like volunteer corn stalks. I don’t heard about it nowadays. Do they still do that?

p.s. About 10 years ago, the area where I was living had a VERY late hard freeze, and corn was sprouting in fields, a few weeks after the official harvest. Some of it got pretty big before the cold finally arrived and killed it off. Those plants probably made some nice fertilizer when they were plowed under in the spring.

The Native Americans grew the “three sisters”, corn, beans, and squash, all in the same fields at once. The beans climbed the corn stalks, the squash liked the shade down below, they kept the soil nutrients in balance without needing fallow or rotation, and they provided near-complete coverage of human nutritional needs.

The only hang-up I can see is that it might be harder to use modern automated harvesting methods.

This is particularly true when the intention is to cut down the whole crop, shred it and use as fodder or silage - as long as it’s all edible to the animals it is intended to feed, and as long as it matures together, mixing doesn’t matter.

Looks like we have a bunch of city slickers here! This is easy to sort out with rotary screens. Standard equipment for farming.


I was told once upon a time, no cite or anything. That planting multiple crops in a single plot was usually to attract critters for hunting. Deer come for the corn, Geese and other birds love the soybeans, or some other combo depending on what they want to hunt. The clincher is usually the field is left unharvested. If it isn’t harvested by the first snow then critters for hunting may be the final product.