The milk-line of on these ears is about one-fourth to one-third down the kernel. This stage might be about right for oxygen-limited silos but could be too late for conventional tower or bunker silos.
Silage harvest has begun in some parts of Ohio. Proper harvest timing is critical because it ensures the proper dry matter (DM) concentration required for high-quality preservation, which in turn results in good animal performance and lower feed costs. The proper DM concentration is the same whether it is a beautiful, record-breaking corn crop or a severely drought-stressed field with short plants containing no ears.
The recommended ranges for silage DM are:
Bunker: 30 to 35%
Upright: 32 to 38%
Sealed upright 35 to 40%
Bag: 32 to 40%
Chopping corn silage at the wrong DM concentration will increase fermentation losses and reduce the nutrient value of the silage. Harvesting corn too wet (low DM concentration) results in souring, seepage, and storage losses of the silage with reduced animal intake. Harvesting too dry (high DM concentration) promotes mold because the silage cannot be adequately packed to exclude oxygen. Harvesting too dry also results in lower energy concentrations and reduced protein digestibility. Continue reading
The primary goal of making corn silage is to preserve as many nutrients in the corn plant as possible, to produce a feed that is acceptable to cows, and to minimize any risks associated with feeding the silage. The following are important considerations for making corn silage when growing conditions have been dry.
Chop at the correct dry matter concentration (Editor’s note: see the accompanying article “Corn Silage Harvest Timing”). Drought-stressed corn plants are often much wetter than they appear, even if the lower plant leaves are brown and dried up. Before starting chopping, sample some plants (cut at the same height as they will be with the harvester) and either analyze DM using a Koster tester or microwave or send it to a commercial lab (turn-around time may be a few days if you send it to a lab). If the plants are too wet, delay chopping until the desired plant DM is reached. The plant may continue to accumulate DM (increase yield), and you will not suffer increased fermentation losses caused by ensiling corn that is too wet. Continue reading