Late planting in some areas of the country, combined with a lack of growing degree days and loss of nitrogen from rains, means some of the corn harvested this fall may have some low test weights. And that could point to a problem if that grain is stored for any length of time.

“Some of the corn crop never really got mature,” says Charles Hurburgh, professor of agricultural engineering at Iowa State University. “And that corn will be harvested this fall at lower protein and higher starch levels, making it very difficult to store.”

The problem is that low test weight corn retains moisture in storage to a greater extent than heavier corn, and is twice as likely to spoil as heavier corn at the same moisture. “Low test weight corn is softer and invites attack by fungi. It also breaks easily when handled,” Hurburgh says.

Corn storage decisions will be critical to ensure grain remains in good condition. “If you have some low test weight corn at harvest, use that grain to fulfill your early contracts,” Hurburgh says. “Know what you have before you put it in the bin.”

Because propane is expensive, and moisture is high this year, more wet corn (up to 18% moisture) will be held over the cold winter months. Don’t choose low test weight corn to hold at higher moisture, and be prepared to check your corn weekly. Any wet corn held-over should be very clean, and in a bin with high airflow.