SDSU tips for harvesting drought-damaged corn for silage
Many growers with drought-damaged corn are considering harvesting it for silage but an Extension feedlot specialist says looks can be deceiving.
Warren Rusche with South Dakota State University says drought stressed corn is wetter than it looks,
“If I’m going to make a mistake on chopping silage I would rather be too dry than too wet.”
He says harvest should start at no wetter than 70% moisture with the goal of being completed before the crop is drier than 58 to 60% moisture. The length of cut should be between one-half to three-fourths an inch.
Rusche says normal fermentation through the ensiling process reduces nitrate levels 25 to 50%.
“So that’s one of the key reasons why when we talk about ensiling being the preferred method to dealing with drought-stressed corn or sorghum silage or any of these crops that accumulate nitrates, that’s the reason why.”
He says that provides a measure of safety that cannot be achieved through other harvest methods.