Use Simple Equation to Estimate Yield

From all appearances, it's been a great growing year, but now growers wonder if their yields will match the way the season appears. One relatively easy way to assess yields before harvest is by counting kernels per acre, according to Kevin Carlson, Federated's senior agronomist.

split ear, counting rows

Many top-producing growers already do this simple exercise, but if you haven't gotten into your fields to do the math, there's an easy way to estimate yields. Carlson added, "it's also a good way to check on crop maturity."

Since measuring the number of ears in an acre by hand is totally unrealistic, this exercise works with 1/1000th of an acre. And to balance the equation, instead of considering the typical 90,000 kernels per bushel, take 1/1000th of that to get 90. Follow these steps:

  1. Take a representative cob of corn and count the number
    of rows around.
  2. Count the number of kernels per row.
  3. Measure off 17 feet, 5 inches in one corn row and count the ears in that portion of the row.counting kernels in row on cob
  4. Enter those numbers into the equation below and multiply as shown, and divide that total by 90 to determine the yield, bushels per acre. 

# of rows around  x  # of kernels per row

x  # of ears per 1/1000th of ac.) ÷ 90 = # of bu./ac.

Carlson said, "The more you do this, the more firm the yield estimate gets. Repeat the process in several places in one field to get a better estimate." He recommended comparing one variety to the next, and one field or farm to another.

By assessing yield early on you can know what to expect at actual harvest, and plans for the coming year can begin (related articles below). Contact your Federated Agronomist with any questions.