Regional report: Corn silage harvest – Andy Carlson, Jerry Ruetten, Jon Rasmussen and Mark Case, Vita Plus

Posted on September 25, 2017 in Forage Foundations
Corn silage harvest is in full gear across most of the Midwest!  As you get a few minutes out of the fields, check to see how harvest has been going in your area.

Central Minnesota, September 26, 2017
By Andy Carlson, Vita Plus dairy specialist
The 2017 corn silage harvest in Minnesota is a much more spread out affair than it was last year.  Planting dates and moisture levels varied across most of the state this year.  Growing degree days were much harder to come by, and we are thankful that Jack Frost has yet to make an appearance.  Generally speaking, harvest started in western Minnesota the week of Labor Day with a lot of corn silage at or near completion.  The central counties, around Stearns County, are progressing well and should be wrapping up most of harvest by the end of September.  The eastern/central part of the state was really hampered by a cool summer and excessive rainfall and will begin seriously harvesting as soon as fields can carry harvest equipment.  Early indications show decent yields and quality with starch levels lower than last year’s mid to upper 30s.  I have been seeing some leaf diseases and ear tip damage due to corn borer, especially the later we get into the season.  We are happy, so far, that it has been a safe harvest and we pray that continues.

Southwest Wisconsin, September 15, 2017
By Jerry Ruetten, Vita Plus Dodgeville dairy specialist
Here in southwest Wisconsin, corn silage harvest has just started. On August 30, Vita Plus Dodgeville hosted a corn silage dry down day where the average dry matter (DM) was 26.8 percent, compared to 29.3 percent in 2016.  This shows we are behind in corn maturity this year, which has delayed corn silage harvest.  We have experienced a lack of rain in the last 30 to 45 days, and that has reduced the potential yield of grain in the corn silage.  Early reports are that the corn silage has been running around 62 to 72 percent moisture, it has been variable from field to field, and the tonnage per acre is 22 to 25 tons per acre on average, which is down from last year.

We do have some producers who have experienced some green snap (where the corn plant is broken off by high wind either right above the ear or right below the ear) in their corn fields from bad wind storms about a month ago.  The tops of the plants are in the field and have molded, and ear production on those plants is very limited.  After walking through some of these fields to determine the amount damaged, we recommended that they not be chopped because of the mold and toxins that would likely be present.  In other cases, if the damage was limited, we recommended quality inoculants, such as Crop-N-Rich®  with MTD/1 or Crop-N-Rich Stage 2 forage inoculants, be used to help arrest any further mold and yeast growth in bunkers, bags or silos.

High moisture corn and snaplage will most likely be delayed due to the shortage of degree days to let the corn plant reach maturity.  So we may see producers putting up their corn grain a little wetter than normal, depending on how the growing season finishes or first frost. In these cases, we recommend treating with Crop-N-Rich Buchneri inoculant to help extend the aerobic stability of high moisture corn or snaplage.

As always, we want to stress the need for safety at these busy times of the year on the roads and in the fields! We look forward to a great 2017 harvest.

Eastern Wisconsin, September 14, 2017
By Jon Rasmussen, Vita Plus dairy technology specialist
Despite some challenges getting corn in the ground this spring, most of the corn in eastern Wisconsin looks really good in mid-September.  As I write this update, most of the whole plant corn silage moistures are in the mid-70s, as it has also been a cooler-than-normal summer.  This has delayed the corn maturation and is setting up for most of the harvest to begin after September 18.  We will likely see a good amount of corn silage harvest occurring in October.  With silage inventories from prior years still in good shape, this is not a bad occurrence for inventory management.  It will stress some manure hauling and wheat planting, but, as with any year, we will figure out ways to adapt and get the work done.

Many of the soybean fields are starting to turn colors and drop leaves too.  It definitely will be an interesting year to hear final yields and what strategies will be planned for next year’s crop.  I hope everyone has a safe and successful harvest!

Western Michigan, September 15, 2017
By Mark Case, Vita Plus dairy specialist
Corn silage harvest is fully underway.  We have plenty of areas in Michigan which have been fairly dry lately.  Because of the dry weather, corn stalks are drying quickly, even though some of the kernels are not mature.  I have scouted a few fields where the kernels are about half milk line, but whole plant moisture is around 65 percent.  Tonnages and yields will be variable throughout Michigan, and will greatly depend on soil moisture and fertility.  I have heard of tonnages as low as 9 tons per acre on dry, low-fertility fields, and as high as 30 tons per acre on irrigated, high-fertility fields.  Some of the initial samples I received from the forage lab have indicated good fiber digestibility and normal starch content.  Most corn harvested for corn silage should be wrapped up in the next two to three weeks, with high moisture corn and snaplage harvest happening right after corn silage harvest.  It looks like we have been blessed with a good crop, which should feed nicely in the coming year.

Category: Forage Foundations
Forage harvesting
Forage inoculants