Considering early harvest of drought-stressed corn for silage

A University of Missouri Extension specialist says some farmers in his state are considering chopping drought-stressed corn for silage.

Zac Erwin based in Adair County tells Brownfield it’s a decision that needs to be made soon, especially with high temperatures in the forecast.

“Without some rain, those stalks are going to start giving up some of that moisture and we really want to harvest that crop at about a 65% level of moisture to be ideal.”

He says growers should also consider nitrate levels since high percentages can be toxic to livestock.

“Now the good news is if you do get it put up with a correct level of moisture and give it a full 30 days before you’re trying to feed it, those nitrate levels will drop I would say at a minimum probably 25%.”

He says cutting the plant higher up on the stalk can help minimize nitrate levels in silage.

Erwin says some farmers have estimated corn yields of less than 40 bushels per acre and hay yields have been less than desirable, so harvesting corn for silage is a way to secure more livestock feed and still get value out of the crop.

He says there is also an option to plant other crops like an oats and turnip mixture following silage harvest to help preserve soil health and create more grazing options through the fall.

He says corn conditions vary across the state depending on where scattered rains have fallen, but he expects to see a lot of corn in northeast Missouri harvested for silage this year.

Audio: Interview with Zac Erwin

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