Ag agronomists and equipment experts offer a number of tips for combining in toppled corn. First, slow down and adjust the gathering chains and snapping roll speed to match the combine speed. Set the chains for more aggressive operation with points opposite each other and closer together. Then adjust deck plates so they hold stalks but not so narrow that stalks wedge between plates.

Second, operate the combine head as low as possible without picking up rocks or soil. Third, combine corn “against the grain” — opposite the direction it is leaning. 

Last, fan speed may need to be reduced to avoid blowing kernels out of the combine, and rotor speed may need to be reduced to maintain grain quality.

Growers need to check behind the combine periodically for lost ears, suggests Mark Hanna, ISU agricultural engineer. “Each ¾-lb. dropped ear in 0.01 acre (about 435 sq. ft.) equals a loss of one bushel per acre,” he says. “Dropped ears hurt in two ways, first by reducing your harvested bushels per acre but also in the following year, especially in a corn-on-corn situation where a GMO trait in volunteer corn can become a weed problem.”