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Silage harvest quickly approaching

Agriculture.com Staff 08/14/2007 @ 1:25pm

Last week, areas of the country experienced hot, dry weather conditions. Growers are encouraged to be aware of the fast approaching silage season, according to a report from Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.

In nearly every state, dry or drought-like conditions have caused some producers to salvage their crop and minimize the losses by harvesting early.

Silage harvest timing is critical. Don't harvest too late and miss the optimum harvest window -- thus storing and feeding too dry silage or high-moisture corn.

Keep the following in mind when harvesting silage:

  1. Drought can cause lower starch and higher sugar content in corn silage because there is less grain in the total silage mix. Corn will ferment quickly so using an inoculant will encourage proper fermentation and improve stability at feedout. In drought-stressed silage, field bacteria counts are likely to be lower than normal.
  2. Sample fields and conduct dry matter tests. Corn silage should be ensiled between 68% to 72% (whole plant moisture) for pits, stacks and bunker-type silos. For conventional-type silos, harvest at 62% to 68% moisture. For oxygen-limiting structures, 50% to 60% moisture is recommended. Depending on the structure and chop length, feedout rates and other management factors, this can vary.
  3. High nitrate levels are common in drought-stressed forages. Growers should increase cutting heights to reduce the threat of nitrate issues. It also is important to test forages before feeding to avoid nitrate toxicity.
  4. Last week, areas of the country experienced hot, dry weather conditions. Growers are encouraged to be aware of the fast approaching silage season, according to a report from Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.

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