Regional report: How’s harvest going? – Greg Wiener, Jerry Ruetten, Jon Rasmussen and Nathan Hrnicek, Vita Plus

Posted on September 26, 2018 in Forage Foundations
From Iowa to Michigan, consultants report on corn silage harvest so far.

Iowa/Minnesota/South Dakota, September 17, 2018 – Greg Wiener, Vita Plus dairy specialist
A major portion of Minnesota and northwest Iowa received significant amounts of rain on September 3 and 4, just as corn silage was getting a good start.  Since that time, the weather has been very favorable for harvest and the choppers have been rolling hard to keep up.  Combined with several days of above-average temperatures and dry south winds, the mature corn plant has been drying too rapidly.  A large amount of corn is now being chopped too dry, and plenty of earlage is being put up too dry.

Corn silage in western South Dakota and western Minnesota has wrapped up as it was drier there than in central Minnesota.

To add to this, many of the farms that were chopping corn silage also had hay down at the same time.  In some cases, this is fourth crop, and, for others, it is fifth crop.  Either way, it looks like it will make very good quality hay or haylage.  Some of this hay is getting baled to assist with cash flow in these down markets.  Excellent quality dry hay is pulling a premium in central Minnesota hay sales.

The combines are rolling hard in the soybean fields in western Minnesota and eastern South Dakota.  Sugar beet growers have started their prelift by lifting beets on the headlands, only then moving to the next field.  However, this has been extremely slow compared to normal as it has been too warm to start to pile, or even leave in a truck too long, as they will start to heat.

Southwest Wisconsin, September 14, 2018Jerry Ruetten, Vita Plus Dodgeville dairy specialist
It was a very wet August in southwest Wisconsin with areas receiving 10 to 14 inches of rain.  Some fields were flooded and alfalfa harvest came to an abrupt halt during the rain.  Overall, local alfalfa production for 2018 was very good in terms of quantity and quality.

Within the last 10 days, we have been blessed with dry weather, and producers took advantage by cutting alfalfa for haylage, baleage, and even some dry hay is being put up.

Corn silage season is also here with the first fields being chopped in early September, and we are hearing some reports of 28 to 30 tons per acre.  This year’s challenge with the corn crop has been the arrival of tar spot.  It is a fungus, not usually seen here, causing early stalk death, standability problems, low test weight, and, in some early infected corn, drastically reduced yield per acre.  This will also speed up the start to the high moisture corn season as these fields dry down abnormally fast.

The soybean crop looks very good locally, with most fields turning color and dropping leaves.  If the weather stays dry, it won’t be too long before soybean harvest starts.  Local estimates are for 50 to 60 bushels per acre.

Eastern Wisconsin, September 17, 2018Jon Rasmussen, Vita Plus dairy specialist
Stating that the 2018 corn silage season is “interesting” does not begin to describe it.  Mother Nature always reminds us who is in charge.  We are blessed with great friends and producers that work long, difficult hours to help each other figure out how to best handle the heavy rain totals, tornado and wind damage, disease pressures, and fast-drying corn.  Overall, corn silage tonnage should be good, but, as of writing this, many are still evaluating what has to be chopped due to challenges and what will be combined.  The heavy rains helped fourth-crop haylage mature and fill in more tonnage.  Most producers tried to wait to harvest hay until the ground could dry some, but some fields will be taken out of their crop rotation early due to field damage.

Northern Indiana/southern Michigan, September 17, 2018Nathan Hrnicek, Vita Plus forage products specialist
Given the different latitudes within this region, it can be expected that we have many differences across the geography.  For some, corn silage harvest is a thing of the past, while others are in the thick of it and some are just getting started.  Yields have been mostly above average to outstanding, which isn’t a huge surprise given the growing season for most.  Certainly, some areas will have lower yields because of the drought conditions in a good portion of Michigan.  Again, the give-and-take of yield versus quality will show up this year.  A few concerning items around corn silage this year include varying kernel and plant maturities, ear rots, and tar spot.  Each of these presents their own unique challenges, but they also give us an opportunity to learn and plan accordingly for the upcoming year.

As always, we want to stress the need for safety during these busy times of the year on the roads and in the fields.  We look forward to a successful end of the 2018 harvest season.

Category: Forage Foundations
Forage harvesting