How Do I Choose the Best Corn Picker?

Lori Kilchermann

In order to choose the best corn picker, you will need to examine several aspects of both the picker and your corn crop. One of the first decisions you will need to make is the number of rows you want your corn picker to pick on each pass. Once this has been decided, you will be required to choose between a mounted corn picker or a pull-behind unit. This decision will also depend on the type of tractor you will be using to harvest your crop. One of the most critical decisions you will need to make is the row spacing capability of your new picker.

Corn harvesting technology has made huge advances over the years.
Corn harvesting technology has made huge advances over the years.

Farming has come leaps and bounds from its early days, and the farmer has many machines to perform the tasks that were once done by hand. Harvesting corn is one area where technology has made vast advances and mechanical pickers are available in several designs and styles. When choosing a mechanical corn picker, you must select from models that can pick from one to 15 rows of corn at once. The typical, small farm will often use a single or two-row corn picker to harvest a crop, while the larger pickers are typically used on a large combine machine.

An ear of corn.
An ear of corn.

There are two distinct styles of corn picker to choose from: a tractor-mounted unit and a pull-behind model. If you decide on a tractor-mounted version, you must select a model that is designed specifically for your model, year and type of tractor. This is often very difficult to do, which makes the draw-bar attached, pull-behind version the picker of choice for many consumers. The mounted type of corn picker also mandates a tractor with a narrow front end, which places the two front tires centered close together, similar to a tricycle, while a pull-behind model can be used with a wide, front end.

The row spacing of your corn planter will typically dictate the type of corn picker you will want to choose. Most two-row pickers are based on a wide row spacing that is common with older planters. If the corn was planted with a newer version of planter that uses a narrow row spacing, you will need to choose a single-row picker. The two-row picker will commonly snap the corn stalks off as they attempt to be squeezed into the narrow spacing of the picker. This results in a large amount of corn being dropped onto the ground and lost.

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