Forage Options With Damaged Corn - UNL CropWatch, Aug. 8, 2013

Forage Options With Damaged Corn - UNL CropWatch, Aug. 8, 2013

August 9, 2013

What can you do with corn fields that have been damaged severely by hail, drought, or even wind?
Ear of hail damaged corn

Standing corn is likely 80% moisture and will need to be dried in the field or mixed with drier grain or hay.

The most common salvage operation for corn damaged by such calamities is to chop it for silage. Don't be in a hurry, though as standing corn currently could be over 80% moisture. The easiest and maybe the best way to lower moisture content is to simply wait until some stalks start to turn brown. This will also allow the surviving corn to continue to add tonnage.

If waiting isn't desirable, reduce moisture by windowing the crop and allow it to wilt one-half to one full day before chopping. You also could mix grain or chopped hay with freshly chopped corn to lower the moisture content. It takes quite a bit of material for mixing though — about 7 bushels of grain or 350 pounds of hay to lower each ton of silage from 80% to 70% moisture.

Or, you can allow that windrowed corn to dry completely and bale it as hay. Be sure to test it for nitrates before feeding.

Grazing might be the easiest way to use damaged corn, and this is a good way to extend your grazing season. You might even plant some corn grain or sorghum-sudangrass or oats and turnips between rows to grow more forage for grazing if you can wait until late fall before grazing. Be sure to introduce livestock slowly to this new forage by feeding them before turning them in to reduce the chances of digestive problems.

Also, strip graze the field to reduce trampling losses and get more grazing from the corn.

Bruce Anderson
Extension Forage Specialist