Silage Could Save Your Corn Profits

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By titanoutlet July 17, 2012 16:14

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If your corn crop isn’t looking so great, you’re not alone this summer. Fields are dry as a bone in the majority of the U.S., and corn plants are dying of thirst.

Maize plants in maize field

All is not lost, even if your corn has peaked in height at half the normal desired harvesting height. You can chop your corn for silage and either feed your livestock or sell it to farmers and ranchers in need – which shouldn’t be hard to find this summer.

I found some great information on ensiling your corn crop to salvage your profits over at AgWeb. Some of the key factors they talked about were the nutrition stats on normal, full harvest size corn vs. drought stricken corn (drought corn having more fiber and less energy, with more protein than normal year corn) and the moisture content is huge. Here are some quotes:

“Purdue University studies showed little or no difference in feedlot gain or milk production when beef and dairy cattle were fed normal or stressed corn silage. But, as a rule, Johnson said drought-stressed corn will have slightly more fiber and less energy, but 1-2 percent more protein than normal silage.

One of the most influential factors is moisture content at harvest.

Ideally, the crop should contain 60-70 percent moisture at harvest,” Johnson said. “For upright silos, to avoid seepage, growers should harvest at 60-65 percent, whereas for bunker silos, harvesting at 65-70 percent moisture will result in better packing and storage qualities.”

He said producers often tend to harvest the damaged crop too soon, meaning silage has too much moisture, which can result in poor fermentation and ultimately lower feed value.
Stalks of plants with brown leaves and stalks with small ears or little grain content will be higher in moisture.”

From this article.

Also these 5 tips from this article.

1. Don’t harvest too early. Even if the corn plant does not pollinate, it will continue to grow and add biomass—especially if it gets rain. “If little or no grain is present, a general rule is that there will be one ton of 70% moisture yield per foot of plant height,” says Mahanna. Instead of 25 to 28 tons of silage, you may be looking at just five to eight tons per acre. So delay harvest as long as practical to achieve greater tonnages.

2. Check plant moisture prior to harvest. “Green, barren stalks will typically be much wetter than they appear in the field and can contain upwards of 75% to 90% moisture because there is no grain to dry down the moisture contained in the stalks,” he says. So chop up a representative sample of plant material and use a microwave or Koster Moisture Tester to determine dry matter. For bunker silos, you’d like to have plant moisture at 68% to70%.

3. Test for nitrates. Drought-stressed corn is prone to higher levels of nitrates. Nevertheless, ensiling corn silage will quickly reduce nitrate levels. “Even at 2,000 parts per million, you can still feed up to half the total ration as corn silage and not run into problems,” he says. So Mahanna recommends chopping plants at normal height to maximize tonnage. If you don’t use an inoculant, allow three weeks of fermentation before feeding. Note that field wilting and baling will not decrease nitrate levels.

4. Pack, pack, pack. Because there is little or no grain in the silage, drought-stressed corn silage will pack like grass silage or oatlage. The plants will also be high in yeast spores. Mahanna recommends the use of L. buchneri inoculant to inhibit yeast and mold growth and improve fiber digestibility.

5. Be aware of silo gas. Drought-stressed corn is high in nitrate and sugar, which in turn leads to the volatilization of nitrogen oxide, nitrogen dioxide and nitrogen tetraoxide. Exercise caution for at least three weeks after harvest—even in bunker silos because gases can accumulate near the ground. Dead rodents near bunkers and in silo rooms are a warning sign that silo gas is present.”

Be sure to visit AgWeb.com to learn more about how to get the most out of this year’s corn crop.

-Al Winmill, Titan Outlet Store Team

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titanoutlet
By titanoutlet July 17, 2012 16:14
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