Harvest times for maize


The timing of maize harvest is influenced by a variety of factors, including genetics, weather conditions, soil fertility and the time of sowing. Understanding these factors is important to determine the optimal time to harvest and maximize yield and quality. Here are some key factors that affect the harvest time of maize:

  1. genetics: maize varieties vary in maturity, some taking longer to reach full maturity than others. Farmers should select varieties that are well suited to their growing conditions and desired harvest time.
  2. weather conditions: Temperature, rainfall and other weather factors can affect the growth and development of maize. Colder temperatures and wet conditions can delay maturity, while hot and dry conditions can accelerate it.
  3. soil fertility: adequate soil fertility is essential for healthy maize growth and development. Nutrient deficiencies or imbalances can affect maize maturity and yield.
  4. maize sowing: The timing of maize sowing can affect harvest time. Early sowing may result in earlier maturity, while late sowing may delay maturity.
  5. pests and diseases: Pests and diseases can damage maize plants and affect maturity. Early detection and control is crucial to minimize the impact on yield and quality.

By taking these factors into account and monitoring maize growth and development, farmers can determine the optimal time to harvest and ensure a successful and profitable crop.

Influence of weather conditions on maize harvest

Weather conditions play a crucial role in the maize harvest and can significantly influence its success. Here are some important aspects of how weather conditions can affect the maize harvest:

  1. rainfall: excessive rainfall can delay or hinder the harvesting process by making fields muddy and difficult to navigate with machinery. Wet conditions can also increase the moisture content of the maize, requiring additional drying time and resources.
  2. Frost: Frost can damage maize plants and kernels, especially in the earlier stages of growth. It can lead to reduced yield and quality, as well as increased susceptibility to diseases and pests. Farmers should monitor weather forecasts and harvest maize before the risk of frost increases.
  3. Drought: Drought can cause maize plants to mature earlier than usual, resulting in a shorter harvest window. This can also result in smaller kernels and lower yields. Adequate irrigation and water management are crucial to mitigate the impact of drought on the maize crop.
  4. wind and storms: strong winds and storms can cause maize plants to lean or fall over. This can make harvesting difficult and increase the risk of yield loss and machinery damage.

Farmers need to monitor weather conditions closely and make timely decisions to ensure a successful maize harvest. Good planning, flexibility and adaptation to changing weather conditions are crucial to mitigate the impact of adverse weather conditions on maize harvest.

Tools and techniques for determining maize maturity

Accurately assessing maize maturity is critical to determining the optimal time to harvest. Below are some tools and techniques farmers can use to assess maize maturity:

  1. maize milk line: the maize milk line is a visual indicator of maize maturity. As the grain matures, a line of milky liquid moves from the top to the bottom of the grain. Observing the position of the milk line can help determine the correct time to harvest.
  2. moisture content of the grain: measuring the moisture content of the maize grain is an effective way to assess maturity. Farmers can use moisture meters or hand-held devices to obtain accurate readings. In general, maize is considered ripe and ready for harvesting when the moisture content is 25-35%.
  3. dry matter content: dry matter content indicates the proportion of non-water constituents in the maize plant. It can be estimated by measuring the stalk, leaves and husks. A higher dry matter content indicates a higher degree of maturity.
  4. number of days after pollination: the number of days that have passed since pollination can be used to estimate the maturity of the maize. Different maize varieties have different maturity levels, so it is important to consider the specific genetic characteristics of the crop.

Using these tools and techniques, farmers can make informed decisions about the optimal time to harvest, ensuring maximum yield and quality from their maize crop.


Achieving the ideal balance between quality and quantity

Grain maize, a staple in many industries, requires a delicate balance between quality and quantity. The quality of grain maize is not solely dependent on its state at harvest but is significantly influenced by the conditions under which it is dried and stored. While growers prioritize optimal financial returns, they also monitor the health of their maize plants diligently. In numerous countries, the traditional method of leaving maize ears to dry on the plant is prevalent, primarily due to storage constraints. This method, while cost-effective and eco-friendly, necessitates the selection of early varieties, potentially sacrificing yield.

Harvesting maize too early has its advantages. It results in limited losses, facilitates easier harvest work, and maintains soil structure, which is crucial for the subsequent crop. Additionally, early harvesting means the grain is less likely to fall off the cob. However, the downsides include more fragile grains, which require delicate machine settings and are prone to clogging. There’s also the additional cost of drying and the risk of not achieving the maximum yield.

On the other hand, harvesting too late can make threshing easier and save on drying costs. But it comes with its own set of challenges. There’s an increased risk of weather deterioration, which can lead to significant losses on the ground, either from fallen ears or grains. Late harvesting can also slow down the harvest work, potentially damaging the soil structure. Moreover, there are heightened health risks and agronomic challenges, such as lodging, which refers to the bending or breaking of stems.

The ideal harvest time is when the moisture content is between 22% to 25%. Utilizing artificial drying methods can safeguard the harvest’s quality and quantity, especially when crops face threats like storms or diseases. It’s crucial to note that the optimal yield is reached when the translocation of assimilates is complete, marked by the appearance of the “black layer” at the kernel’s base. Modern maize varieties have evolved to be more resilient, especially during the later stages of their growth cycle. A visual assessment of both the kernels and the plant body can provide insights into the plant’s stage. With these considerations in mind, growers must strike the right balance to ensure the best outcome for their harvest.


  • Jean-Paul Renoux, Gilles Espagnol, Bertrand Carpentier, Technical guide- grain and silage maize, central and eastern Europe, ARVALIS Institut du vegeral, 2017
  • Ngoune Tandzi, L.; Mutengwa, C.S. Estimation of Maize (Zea mays L.) Yield Per Harvest Area: Appropriate Methods. Agronomy 2020, 10, 29. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10010029
  • Ion, Viorel & Dicu, Georgeta & Dumbravă, M. & Temocico, Georgeta & Alecu, I.N. & Basa, Adrian & State, D.. (2015). Harvest index at maize in different growing conditions. 20. 10951-10960.
  • Hütsch, Birgit & Schubert, Sven. (2017). Harvest Index of Maize ( Zea mays L.): Are There Possibilities for Improvement?. 10.1016/bs.agron.2017.07.004.


Dear visitor,
We would like to ask you to fill in this short survey of 6 questions in order to continuously improve the quality of the information made available to you. Thank you for your participation.