Consider Early Harvest to Provide Stalks, Relieve Pastures - UNL CropWatch, Sept. 13, 2013
September 13, 2013
The past few weeks have really fried dryland corn. With no more yield potential to gain and fairly dry grain, consider harvesting corn early to get some stalks and provide respite for your pastures.
Most pastures have suffered through two or more years of drought stress. As we approach winter, these plants need time to recover and winterize. Even if they received plenty of rain recently or get more later this year and regrow well, continued grazing now will weaken plants as they go into winter. Next spring they will green up later, early growth will be slow, and they'll compete poorly with weeds.
To given your pastures a break, consider combining your dryland corn a little early and then moving the cows to stalks. Early stalks usually have more protein and energy than late stalks so they can put some condition on your cows while also relieving your pastures. And don’t worry about leaving some grass behind ungrazed. Dry, leftover grass actually balances well with new lush growth in the spring.
With the recent excessive heat, corn grain has matured rapidly and may be ready to combine. You need a little time to set up fences and water tanks on stalk fields anyway, so consider starting corn harvest early this year. It might lessen the hectic pace later when you want to spend time in the combine harvesting crops instead of setting up stalk grazing.
Extension Forage Specialist