Most dryland corn fields may be too dry for making the best silage. Dry silage is difficult to pack well enough to force out all the oxygen and it often spoils, lowering its energy and protein digestibility. It also can heat up, leading to spontaneous combustion fires.
Spotty rains and drought conditions in some areas of the state as well as hail and wind damage are leading growers to seek alternative uses for rainfed corn fields. Fortunately, there are several forage alternatives.
The current heat wave is taking a toll on forage plants, particularly cool-season plants. Alfalfa and clovers, bromegrass, orchardgrass, fescues, needlegrasses, and wheatgrasses all struggle during hot weather, but adjusting your management can limit the stress from stressful weather.
Are you seeing thinning stands and more weeds in your alfalfa than you'd like? If so, take time out this summer to determine whether you may need to replant the field or rotate out of alfalfa to provide a nitrogen boost for the next crop. Here's a quick guide to assess potential production based on number of shoots per plant.
Many hay fields have recently been cut and baled for hay. After the final cutting for the year, it may not matter too much if bales are left in the field, but when more harvests are expected from that field, delaying removal may cut future yield.
Wheat stubble can be an excellent seedbed in which to no-till plant forages, particularly if you're preparing to start planting immediately after wheat harvest, while soil water is available and before weeds get a foothold.