what does corn test weight mean


What Does Corn Test Weight Mean?

Corn test weight is an essential parameter that plays a crucial role in determining the quality and value of corn crops. Understanding the concept of corn test weight is important for farmers, agronomists, and anyone involved in the corn industry. In this article, we will explore the meaning of corn test weight, its significance, factors affecting it, and how it is measured. So, let's dive in and unravel the fascinating world of corn test weight.

Why Does Corn Test Weight Matter?

Corn test weight is an important metric because it provides an estimate of the density and overall quality of corn kernels. It is the weight of a given volume of grain, usually measured in pounds per bushel (lb/bu). Higher test weights indicate denser kernels, which are desirable for various reasons.

Factors Affecting Corn Test Weight

Several factors can influence the test weight of corn, including genetics, weather conditions, cultural practices, and the overall health of the plant. Let's take a detailed look at each of these factors below:


The genetic makeup of corn plays a significant role in determining its test weight. Different corn varieties have varying test weights due to inherent genetic differences. Some hybrids are naturally prone to producing denser and heavier kernels, while others may have lower test weights. Seed companies continuously develop new hybrids with improved test weights to meet the demands of the market and maximize yields.

Weather Conditions

Weather conditions during the growing season can have a profound impact on corn test weight. Ideal weather conditions, such as moderate temperatures, adequate rainfall, and ample sunshine, encourage optimal photosynthesis and grain fill, resulting in higher test weights. On the other hand, unfavorable weather conditions, such as prolonged drought, excessive heat, or late-season frost, can negatively affect kernel development and reduce test weights.

Cultural Practices

Farmers have a range of cultural practices at their disposal that can influence corn test weight. Plant population, fertility management, irrigation, and weed control are some of the key factors that farmers can manipulate to optimize test weights. Adequate spacing between plants allows each plant to access necessary nutrients and resources, leading to improved kernel development. Proper fertility management, including balanced nutrient applications, also plays a role in achieving higher test weights.

Health of the Plant

The overall health and vigor of corn plants can significantly impact test weight. Diseases, pests, and nutrient deficiencies can hinder kernel development and reduce test weights. It is essential for farmers to monitor their crops regularly and take appropriate measures to control pest infestations and manage diseases. Additionally, ensuring a balanced nutrient supply through soil testing and targeted fertilization is crucial in maintaining plant health and maximizing test weights.

Measuring Corn Test Weight

Corn test weight is determined by measuring the weight of a specific volume of corn kernels. The standard volume used for measuring test weight is one bushel, which is equivalent to 56 pounds (lb). This weight is based on the volume that a bushel of shelled corn occupies. The test weight is expressed in pounds per bushel (lb/bu), which signifies the weight of corn in one bushel volume.

The most common method of measuring corn test weight is using a calibrated test weight scale. This scale calculates the weight of a known volume of corn, typically a quart or a liter, and then converts it to pounds per bushel. Farmers or consultants can use portable test weight scales to evaluate the test weight of corn while in the field or at the storage facility. These devices provide rapid and accurate measurements, allowing for real-time decision-making.

The Significance of Corn Test Weight

High-quality corn with a desirable test weight offers several advantages for farmers, end-users, and the overall corn industry. Let's explore the significance of corn test weight in detail:

Market Value

Corn test weight plays a crucial role in determining the market value of corn. Markets typically offer premiums for corn with higher test weights as it indicates a denser grain. Elevated test weights are desirable for various applications, including animal feed, ethanol production, and export markets. Farmers can benefit from higher prices and increased profitability by consistently producing corn with superior test weights.

Storage and Handling

Corn with higher test weights exhibits better flowability, which is essential during storage and handling processes. It allows the corn to flow more easily through equipment, reducing the risk of blockages and grain damage. Improved flowability also enables efficient grain transport, ensuring smooth operations at elevators, processing facilities, and export terminals.

Processing Efficiency

In industries such as ethanol production, corn test weight directly influences processing efficiency. Denser corn kernels result in higher ethanol yields per bushel, leading to improved productivity for ethanol plants. Similarly, corn with higher test weights in the dry milling industry is more efficiently processed into products like cornmeal, grits, and flour.

Yield Estimation

Corn test weight can also help estimate overall crop yields. By measuring the test weight of harvested corn, farmers can gain insights into kernel development and assess yield potential. This information assists in crop management decisions, such as adjusting planting populations, assessing nutrient requirements, and fine-tuning harvest operations.


In summary, corn test weight is a key indicator of corn quality and plays a vital role in determining its market value and utility. It is affected by various factors, including genetics, weather conditions, cultural practices, and the overall health of the plant. Measuring corn test weight using calibrated scales provides valuable insights for farmers and industry professionals. High test weights offer advantages such as increased market value, improved storage and handling, enhanced processing efficiency, and better yield estimation. By understanding and actively managing corn test weight, farmers can optimize their operations and capitalize on the economic potential of their corn crops.


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