how does test weight affect corn yield


How Does Test Weight Affect Corn Yield


Corn is one of the most crucial crops in the world, serving as a staple food for many nations and fulfilling various industrial purposes. Farmers consistently strive to maximize their corn yield to ensure abundant harvests and meet the growing demand. While several factors influence corn yield, one significant aspect that deserves attention is the test weight of corn kernels. Test weight refers to the weight of corn per unit volume and is measured in pounds per bushel (lbs/bu). In this article, we will delve into the impact of test weight on corn yield, exploring the relationship between these two factors and its implications for farmers.

Understanding Test Weight and its Significance

Test weight, as mentioned earlier, is a valuable metric for evaluating corn quality. It determines the weighable value of corn and enables buyers and sellers to estimate the yield in a given volume. To measure test weight accurately, a sample of corn is weighed and then divided by the volume occupied in a container, usually expressed in bushels per acre. The higher the test weight, the better the quality of corn.

The Relationship Between Test Weight and Corn Yield

High test weight often serves as an indicator of good quality corn; however, it is crucial to understand its connection with corn yield. Test weight can significantly influence the number of kernels produced in an acre of corn, ultimately impacting the crop's yield.

Test weight represents corn density, meaning that kernels with higher test weights occupy less space. Consequently, plants with high test weight corn produce fewer barren plants in an acre, leading to increased population densities and higher corn yield. This can be explained by the fact that high test weight kernels tend to germinate more efficiently, resulting in healthier plants with more robust roots that can withstand various environmental stresses.

Additionally, the relationship between test weight and corn yield can be attributed to seed size. Corn kernels with high test weight are generally larger in size, and larger kernels possess more nutrients and energy reserves, enhancing seedling vigor and allowing plants to establish themselves better in the field. Strong seedling establishment contributes significantly to the overall health and productivity of the plant, ultimately influencing corn yield.

Factors Influencing Test Weight

Test weight can be influenced by various factors, both outside and within the control of farmers. Understanding these factors is crucial for farmers to optimize corn yield by ensuring favorable test weights.

Genetics: The genetic makeup of corn varieties plays a vital role in determining test weight. Certain corn hybrids are inherently more likely to exhibit high test weights. Farmers must select hybrids that have a track record of producing high test weight corn and yield well in their specific growing conditions.

Weather Conditions: External factors such as weather conditions during grain filling and maturity stages can significantly impact test weight. Adverse weather conditions like drought, colder temperatures, and excessive rainfall can negatively affect test weight. Drought conditions tend to reduce kernel size and weight due to limited nutrient availability, while excessive rainfall can lead to sprouting or kernel damage.

Fertilization: Proper fertilization management is necessary to achieve optimal test weights. Imbalances or deficiencies in nutrient levels can directly affect kernel development and test weight. Micronutrients like zinc, manganese, and boron are particularly important for maintaining good grain fill and ensuring high test weights.

Plant Population Density: Plant population density also affects test weight. Overcrowding can cause competition among plants for nutrients, moisture, and sunlight, resulting in reduced test weight. On the other hand, lower plant populations can lead to decreased competition and allow plants to allocate resources efficiently, resulting in higher test weights.

Harvest Timing: Harvesting at the right time is crucial for preserving test weight. Delayed harvest can increase kernel moisture levels, making the corn more susceptible to damage during handling, drying, and storage. Proper drying and storage methods are vital to maintain high test weights after harvest.

The Economic Importance of Test Weight

Aside from its impact on yield potential, test weight holds economic significance for corn farmers. Buyers and processors of corn often pay premiums for corn with high test weights, indicating good grain quality. High-quality corn with increased test weights fetches better prices in the market, leading to improved profitability for farmers. Additionally, it allows farmers to meet the stringent requirements set by various industries, ensuring a reliable market for their produce.


The test weight of corn kernels plays a pivotal role in determining corn yield and overall crop profitability for farmers. Understanding this relationship and the factors that influence test weight empowers farmers to make informed decisions when selecting corn hybrids, implementing proper agronomic practices, and optimizing yield potential. By focusing on achieving higher test weights, farmers can enhance the quality and quantity of their corn harvest, ensuring continued success in the competitive world of agriculture.


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