Regional reports: 2021 harvest wrap-up across the Midwest

Posted on November 5, 2021 in Forage Foundations
Steve Murty, central Iowa

Central Iowa saw many surprises this harvest season while maintaining a severe drought status.  Forage yields were excellent for the summer hay crops.  Many producers said this year’s soybean yields were the best yields ever.  Corn silage tons per acre were up over the previous couple years and harvesters were able to harvest the crop with appropriate moistures.  Alternative and cover crops found a larger share of the silo space, adding higher-quality options to the forage inventory.  Many livestock producers have been able to produce and store better feedstuffs for this next season.

Augusta Witt, northern Illinois
Corn silage harvest went well in our area this year. It seemed a little earlier than years previous, depending on the amount of precipitation the fields received. Some tar spot was seen in fields, which dried the plant down even quicker. It was nice to have good weather at harvest; we did not have to deal with much rain.

We saw some army worms in alfalfa fields this fall.  They can quickly take out a segment of a field or even a whole field.  I’m thankful we have control measures to get rid of them.

Inventories are precipitation-dependent. Some customers are sitting really well on both haylage and corn silage while haylage is a concern for others. Similarly, corn and soybean yields have also been very dependent on how much precipitation the fields received. Overall yields are at or above expectations.

Owen Mickley, Ohio
Corn silage harvest went well overall.  We ran into a lot of corn silage hitting dry matter (DM) targets at the same time, which resulted in a portion of our crop going in a little drier than we typically see.  Yields have been average to above average.   Quality appears to be mostly average from early tests.  This is one of our better years for forage inventory overall.  Because corn silage tonnages were up, we have seen additional snaplage, high moisture corn and shell corn harvested.

Ashley Blackburn, central Wisconsin
This year’s harvest was excellent and efficient.  Yield and quality were above average.  The weather cooperated and allowed producers to get their crops off in a timely manner.

Steve Good, eastern Michigan
2021 was a great growing season in eastern Michigan. The start of our harvest season in early September was dry, but we received rain from mid-September through October, which significantly slowed harvest. Alfalfa quality and quantity are above average with 6 to 7-plus tons DM per acre versus an average of 5 tons. Corn silage yields came in at 7 to 10 tons DM per acre versus an average of 6 tons and the quality is good with minimal mycotoxins. Corn is excellent, yielding 225 to 275 bushels per acre versus our average of 190 bushels per acre. We are also having very good soybean yields at 50 to 70 bushels per acre. Sugar beets is another large crop in our area. This year’s crop is above average at 35 tons per acre versus an average of 28 tons. All the extra yields will be a plus in our local economy.

Kate McAndrews, central Minnesota
A producer described it as “a tale of two seasons.”  Early to mid-summer, conditions were very dry across most of greater central Minnesota and to the north and west.  But the rains arrived in late July and into August, which, for most crops, was welcomed and came in good timing.  Some severe drought areas were too far gone and those fields were chopped.  Early analyses show low to moderate starch levels and high fiber digestibility, which is common for drought-induced corn silage.  Yields were roughly half of what each of the last few years had brought.

In the areas that did receive rain, corn plants had held on long enough that they utilized the periodic late summer moisture well and continued on their way, depositing starch in those kernels that – amazingly enough – had pollinated pretty completely, with corn silage yield estimates of about 80% of what each of the last few years had brought.  Early analyses of these corn silage samples show higher starch levels in additional to higher fiber digestibility.  We will keep learning how the wide range in this year’s corn crop will feed.

Some earlage, snaplage, and high moisture corn has been harvested, but not to the degree that we had seen with the stronger yields in recent past.  Presumably, some of this corn acreage was used as corn silage and, with the beautiful fall weather we have had, corn did dry down well and has been harvested as dry grain.  Alfalfa and grass hay crops rebounded with these later rains and left producers pondering a later cutting of forage.  And finally, corn silage coming off fields in a decent window left great opportunity for fall-seeding of winter cereals, which could allow spring to return some of the lost forage tons.

Category: Crop varieties
Feed quality and nutrition
Forage Foundations
Forage harvesting