Corn Forage 8-7-09

Corn Forage 8-7-09

August 7, 2009

While wind, hail, floods, and drought have destroyed the potential for corn harvest in some fields this season, forage production may offer a viable option for salvaging the value of what's left.

Before beginning any type of harvest, check with both your insurance agent and your local Farm Service Agency office to make sure you don’t disqualify yourself from any supplemental payments.

Silage or Hay. If your corn is still standing, it obviously can be chopped for silage or even cut and baled as hay. It’s really important to get the moisture content right for either option, but getting it dry enough for hay might be the most difficult. Tall plants are difficult to mow, stalks need to be run through a conditioner, and windrows need a long time to dry. Remaining ears are especially hard to dry so they tend to spoil inside the bale.

Grazing. Grazing may be the simplest option. If you have more ruined corn than cattle to consume it, just build a fence around the entire field as you would when grazing stalks in winter. Another option would be to find more cattle to graze the corn. Yearlings easily gain 1.5 lb to 2 lb per day on corn forage, usually more. This can produce some pretty cheap gain for feedlot cattle compared to feeding grain or by-products.

If you strip graze the field, you'll get 2 to 3 times as many animal days of grazing as you would if cattle were given access to the entire field.

It’s heart breaking to lose a good corn field to bad weather, but salvage what you can by using it as forage.

Bruce Anderson
Extension Forage Specialist