Why are there fields of dead corn just standing there?

My friend and I noticed this at the same time, he in Pennsylvania and I in Indiana. Huge fields of dead corn just standing there. Yellow and fugly. Is this being done for a reason, such as to just ripen the eff out of them, mow them down, and use them for ethanol? Or is it just not profitable to harvest this year, so they’re going to till it all under? Thanks for the SD!

I live in rural Ohio, and am surrounded by cornfields. Right now the corn is still standing, yellow, and “looks” dead. But this is a normal part of life cycle for field corn. The corn is still good, and the farmers are allowing it to dry before being harvested using the combines. If they harvest it too early - when the moisture content of the corn is too high - they either need to dry it (which is costly and/or time consuming) or sell it at a much cheaper price.

The corn is harvested after the moisture content of the corn is below a threshold value. The date when this occurs is highly dependent on the weather… around here I’ve seen them harvest corn anywhere from early October to late December.

I see, thanks!

I guess another question is why there are also at the same time fields of very fresh-looking green corn. Was it planted later? If so, why? Thanks!

Another reason could be hunting. Not sure about on the east coast, but in Arizona in the last few years the Arizona fish and game agency has been buying some fields and having them left alone or just cut down partially but with the corn and other stuff left in the field. It’s to try and attract dove and other game birds back to the region. With a lot of modern agriculture the birds had been leaving the area in the last 10 years since there wasn’t enough for them to eat on their migration, so this was to try and get them to come back. I’m not a hunter, but many of my cousins are and according to them it had gotten pretty bad, but is finally starting to come back.

Have you considered the possibility that the dried-up cornfield will be used in a remake of *North by Northwest*?

One of the things I always found unsettling about that scene is that everything looks so brown and dead like it’s midwinter, yet it’s supposedly a hot day in northern Indiana.*

*which makes sense when you realize that the scene was actually shot near Bakersfield, CA.

Probably, yes. Different strains of corn take longer to ripen. Often, which gets planted depends upon the crop rotation for the field. If the field was used for winter wheat, the corn may have been planted later, requiring a strain that will still be green in Sept., but will dry out more quickly when the time comes.

That’s interesting, although I think hunting is pretty robust in Indiana, so I doubt that’s it.

Most of this corn left standing in the field to dry is feed corn, or field corn, sometimes called dented corn. Corn for animal feed or maybe ethanol, not sweet corn for human consumption. So it is more economical to leave it to dry standing, then harvest and silo it.

We always had corn standing in the field on our farm in Minnesota, all through the winter, until snow covered it.

My parents would never allow it to be plowed under in the fall; that had to wait until the spring. Because they had grown up as children in western Minnesota during the Hoover Depression, and had seen drought years where the wind blew all the topsoil away from the fields. Leaving the corn (or other crops) in the ground prevents this ‘Dust Bowl’ effect.

Plus we turned the horses out into that field – they found enough ears of corn that the automatic picker missed that we had to reduce their feed when we first put them into that field. And it was good for the winter for the pheasants & ducks & other bug-eating birds on the land.

Young farmers nearby would laugh because it took us longer to plow that under in the spring, but our land still produces better crop yields than theirs.

I’m by no means a farmer, but I used to have a big ag processing company as a client.

This is exactly my understanding, too.

When a farmer brings harvested corn to the elevator to sell it, the elevator staff will measure the moisture content of it, and the price which they pay the farmer is a direct function of the moisture content. The processor needs dry corn – and if the farmer doesn’t bring dry corn (either dried out before harvesting, or dried after harvesting by the farmer), then the processor will need to dry it, and, hence, the lower price paid.

it’s probably sweet corn, which is the type we eat fresh, whether on-the-cob, canned, or frozen, whatever. Field corn is the kind of corn used for things like corn flour (masa,) corn syrup, pretty much any processed food item made from corn, and animal feed. it’s has a thick seed coat and the starchy interior is very dry and hard.

If you’ve recently had heavy rain, the soil may also be too wet and muddy for the equipment to go out and harvest it.

I don’t understand how the maize can still be standing after harvest. The combine will cut the stalks and they feed into the processor. Out the back comes the chaff and into the truck on one side go the kernels. You are left with a field of stalks only a few centimetres high and rows of chaff.

Farmers will often plant different varieties of corn in their fields, to hedge their bets (a batch of seeds might turn out to be bad, or a blight could damage one variety of corn while another would resist it, etc.) Corn can also have different maturities (length of time the plant takes to mature). All of that, as well as planting date, can change the time a field is ready to be picked.

The longer you wait to pick the corn after the stalks turn brown, the more the corn will dry in the field, so the farmer doesn’t need to pay for drying it. The risk is that the stalks become too brittle (especially after the first frost), and the ears fall off, or the weather turns bad and the fields get too muddy to get the equipment into.

I asked the same thing 7 years ago.

Not if you are using an old 2 row or 4 row picker. The kind hauled around behind (and over) your Allis-Chalmers C. That kind of picker will often leave a few ears behind, especially the smaller ones.

If you see a couple of rows left standing while the rest of the field is harvested it means the farmer is using them to attract deer.

A few rows left standing here, along a roadway, means it’s being used as a snow fence, to prevent drifting onto roadways.

I don’t know if farmers get reimbursed for this or not, but it’s very effective.

Don’t see this often in Ohio but I can see it being necessarily up in Canada. Mostly around here you see two or three patches of a couple of partial rows out in the field away from the road. Gives deer some cover to run to during the hunt while still being on the farmers land.

Simultaneous filming of Children of the Corn 9, 10, and 11.