Corn Harvest Quality Report 2015/2016


The overall quality of the 2015 corn crop was better than the average of the previous four crop years (4YA1) on most attributes, with 94% of the samples that would grade U.S. No. 2 or better. In addition to desirable average levels of grade factors, the 2015 U.S. corn crop is entering the market channel with the following characteristics: average moisture content below 4YA, percent of stress cracks lower than 4YA, and starch and oil concentrations and whole kernels higher than 4YA.

The higher quality was largely the result of a favorable corn growing season with earlier than normal planting, a cool, wet summer, and a warm, dry fall. U.S. corn producers experienced record high yields in 2015, resulting in the third largest U.S. corn crop on record. Total U.S. corn production for 2015 is projected to be 346.8 million metric tons (13.65 billion bushels), a 4% decrease in production over the 2014 corn crop. The United States is the top exporter of corn, with an estimated 38% of global corn exports during the 2015/2016 marketing year.


  • Test weight of 58.2 lb/bu (74.9 kg/hl), with 94.2% above the limit for No. 1 grade corn, and 99.4% above the limit for No. 2. Higher than 2014 and 4YA, this test weight indicates good kernel filling and maturation.
  • Low levels of broken corn and foreign material (BCFM) (0.8%), with 95.3% below the limit for No. 1 grade, indicating little cleaning will be required.
  • Lower total damage (1.4%) than 2014, but higher than 4YA. However, 96.1% of the samples were below the limit for No. 2 corn, indicating that the corn should store well.
  • Lower elevator moisture content (15.7%) than 2014 and 4YA. The distribution shows 40.7% of the samples were below 15% moisture, and only 19.1% of the samples were above 17% moisture. This distribution indicates fewer samples required drying than in 2014, which also decreases potential for stress cracking.


  • Protein concentration (8.2% dry basis) lower than 2014, 2013, and 4YA. The lower protein concentration is likely attributable to high yields and excellent growing and filling conditions in 2015 that produced high starch concentrations.
  • High starch concentration (73.6% dry basis) above 2014, previous years and 4YA, indicating good growing conditions, excellent kernel filling and maturation, which will be beneficial for wet millers.
  • Oil concentration of 3.8% (dry basis), same as 2014, but higher than 2013 and 4YA.


  • Extremely low stress cracks (3%) and stress crack index (6.6), below 2014, 2013, and 4YA, with 93% of samples having stress cracks less than 10%. The lower percentage of stress cracks is likely due to excellent field dry-down conditions at harvest with little artificial drying. Susceptibility to breakage should be very low compared to previous years.
  • High kernel volumes (0.27 cm3), same as 2014, 2013, and 4YA.
  • Higher 100-k weight (34.34 g) than 2014, 2013, and 4YA, signifying larger kernels than in previous years.
  • Lower true density (1.254 g/cm3) and horneous endosperm (79%) than 2014 and 4YA, indicating softer kernels compared to 2014 and 4YA.
  • Whole kernels (95%) higher than 2014, 2013, and 4YA. The high percentage of whole kernels indicates the corn should have fewer broken kernels and more resistance to molds than previous years.


  • Lower incidences of aflatoxins detected compared to the 2014 and 2013 corn crop. 100% of the 2015 corn samples tested below the FDA action level of 20 ppb.
  • 100% of the corn samples tested below the FDA advisory levels for DON (5 ppm for hogs and other animals and 10 ppm for chicken and cattle) (same as in 2014 and 2013). Lower incidences of DON (percent of samples testing positive for DON) were detected in the 2015 corn crop compared to the 2014 crop.