For dairy producers in the northern United States, corn chopping season is nearing or has already arrived, and along with it, the difficult task of getting it cut at just the right dry matter.

“Whole plant dry matter is always the best indicator for silage harvest timing, but this year it will be even more important to use this measurement to categorize fields for harvest timing,” shared Cornell’s Karl Czymmek, Joe Lawrence, and Curt Gooch in a recent Pro-Dairy eAlert.

This is especially essential in years like this when a light frost or stressful growing season can make corn look drier than it is. The group said, “A reduction of healthy leaf tissue will slow whole-plant dry down.”

Late crop corn silage also comes with the risk of excess silage leachate, according to the Cornell specialists. This is tied to the heightened risk of harvesting a wet crop.

For that reason, they recommended targeting a dry matter range of 65 to 70 percent for bunker silos and 62 to 67 percent moisture for tower silos.

“This means tracking crop dry matter levels before harvest and harvesting based on measured whole-plant moisture content,” they said.

Additionally, it is important to monitor leachate. If your bunker silo has a low flow collection system, the group recommends conducting maintenance now to ensure pumps function and then checking collection tanks to ensure they don’t overflow.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2017
September 18, 2017

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