Regional fall harvest reports – John Brantsen, Jerry Ruetten, Jon Rasmussen and Mark Case, Vita Plus

Posted on November 29, 2016 in Forage Foundations

With the 2016 fall harvest behind us, hear from our Vita Plus dairy and forage consultants as they reflect on the hay, corn silage and grain harvests at several points in the Vita Plus market area.

Northwest Iowa, November 18, 2016By John Brantsen, Vita Plus dairy specialist
2016 turned into an excellent crop year for northwest Iowa.  Near-ideal growing conditions for much of the region pushed corn and soybean yields to record levels on many farms.  Corn silage harvest started out well, however, several rain events stopped progress in the middle of chopping for the majority of operations.  Very few corn silage bunkers and piles were put up this year without rain in them.  In some cases, piles sat open for three to four days after heavy rainfall events before the choppers were able to get back in the fields.  Time will tell what the impact will be at feedout.

At first glance, the overall quality of the corn silage appears to be pretty good in most cases.  Alfalfa yields were tremendous in 2016, as long as farms were able to dodge the rain during first and second cuttings.  Some farms were even able to take a late fifth cutting this year.

Southwest Wisconsin, November 11, 2016 – By Jerry Ruetten, Vita Plus Dodgeville dairy specialist
In southern Wisconsin, the hay growing season was mostly good to excellent, but it was very hard to make dry hay because of the abundant rainfall.  Most dairy producers have shifted away from making dry hay to making more baleage or wrapped hay.  Due to the exceptional growing conditions this summer, most hay growers were able to harvest an additional hay crop; I have one producer who cut his sixth alfalfa crop on November 9.  The yields and quality for each hay crop this season have been generally above average.

This year’s corn growing season mirrored national corn production.  The abundant rainfall and heat we received enabled us to produce record corn grain bushels per acre and above average corn silage tons per acre with high levels of starch.  Some of the challenges we experienced this year were excessive rainfall and controlling late-season weeds.  The extended rainfall allowed weeds to continue to germinate and push nitrogen below the root zone, but tissue sampling helped determine nitrogen needs.  Some grain producers also used fungicide application with airplanes to help produce higher stalk and ear quality.

Eastern Wisconsin, November 7, 2016 By Jon Rasmussen, Vita Plus dairy technology specialist
In eastern Wisconsin, hay yields, as a whole, have been phenomenal.  Many farms had to rent space in old barn yards or bunkers on non-operating farms to store the crop because they overfilled their feed storage capacities.  However, due to the abundant rain windows, the quality of the crop varies across the region.

This year’s silage and corn crops rank among the highest yields we have seen.  Silage harvest did have similar challenges to hay when several inches of rain fell near the start of harvest.  This left many producers waiting to drag dump carts through the fields instead of using their trucks.  If you had to wait long for dump carts, the result was drier-than-desired silage.  As far as grain goes, many farms had corn yields greater than 200 bushels per acre and soybean yields greater than 60 bushels per acre.  Some acres still need to be harvested, but these numbers are definitely above average for the eastern Wisconsin region.

Western Michigan, November 1, 2016By Mark Case, Vita Plus dairy specialist
Corn silage harvest finished in mid-October and most of my customers finished chopping their final hay crop in late October.  Most farms have good inventories of both haylage and corn silage and quality appears to be very good.  This means farmers should be able to include higher proportions in rations and see good performance.

Soybeans have been coming off fast with above-average yields as harvest comes to a close.  Quite a few farmers were harvesting corn in the first week of November.  I talked to a customer harvesting corn for dry storage at 18-percent moisture and another harvesting snaplage at 30-percent moisture.  If I had to estimate, I would say most crops should be off the fields by the end of November.  This Thanksgiving, we were able to look back and be truly thankful for a good harvest this year while looking forward to the 2017 season.

Category: Forage Foundations
Forage harvesting