How do I estimate how much corn is on the ground?

Producer QuestionHow do I estimate how much corn is on the ground?

Q.  We have the opportunity to rent some cornstalks that has a fair amount ear drop. How do I estimate how much corn is on the ground? We are trying to determine how to graze it with cows. (October 25, 2016)

A.  Prior to grazing cornstalks with cattle, an estimate should be made of the amount of corn that is present in the field. The UNL Extension Circular EC 287 Grazing Crop Residues with Beef Cattle provides information on a simple method for estimating the bushels of corn that are on the ground.

An 8-inch ear of corn contains about 0.50 lb of corn grain; therefore, 112 8-inch ears would equal 1 bushel (1 bushel = 56 pounds). By counting the number of ears, the amount of corn can be estimated. If corn is planted in 30-inch rows, count the number of ears in three different 100-foot furrow strips and divide by two to give an approximate number of bushels per acre.

For example, after walking three, 100-foot strips, a total of 30 ears of corn were counted. Total ears of corn, which is 30, divided by 2, equals an estimated 15 bushels of corn per acre on the ground. Small ears and broken ears should be counted as half ears, while very large ears could be counted as an ear and a half. Any amount beyond 8-10 bushels per acre will require a well-planned grazing strategy to ensure that too much grain is not consumed by grazing cattle.

Aaron Berger
Nebraska Extension Educator