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Jeff Burbrink: For best silage, don't wait too long to harvest corn

To make the most of your silage, be sure to harvest corn at the correct stage of growth. A good rule to follow is to chop the corn soon after the kernels are well dented, but before the leaves and stalks become brown and dry. Harvesting too early, when the grain is in the milk or very early dough stage, will result in reduced feed value. Some farmers harvest silage too early because they believe

Posted on Sept. 2, 2011 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on Feb. 27, 2012 at 5:03 p.m.

To make the most of your silage, be sure to harvest corn at the correct stage of growth.

A good rule to follow is to chop the corn soon after the kernels are well dented, but before the leaves and stalks become brown and dry.

Harvesting too early, when the grain is in the milk or very early dough stage, will result in reduced feed value. Some farmers harvest silage too early because they believe they are losing feed when they see undigested kernels in the manure. This is not true. The digestibility of corn at the dent stage is just as high as corn at the milk stage.

Corn silage that is cut late and has brown, dead leaves and shucks can make fair to good silage. Field losses are greater when silage is harvested late in the season, and additional water may need to be added to enhance the fermentation process. As a rule of thumb, add four gallons of water per ton of silage for each one percent desired rise in moisture content.

Add this while the silo is being filled, not after.

Water added after the silo is filled tends to seep down the silo walls rather than be absorbed by the chopped corn. This can cause leaching of silage nutrients, and poor fermentation.




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