Corn Silage Dry Down Slowed

SILAGE DRY-DOWN SLOWED                                                                          

Robb Wock, DPC – Purina Animal Nutrition LLC

The Feed and Agronomy Team of All American Co-op conducted another Corn Silage “burn-down” event in St. Charles on Tuesday, September 1st and found an average moisture content of 72% on 73 samples.  This calculates out to a Dry-Down-Rate of approximately ¼ point/day if you go back 10 days to our previous event held in Plainview.  This is much lower than typically expected, with ½ point to ¾ point much more common.  It is reasonable to suggest that cooler temperatures combined with the addition of some precipitation during that timeframe kept the Dry-Down-Rate to a minimum!  In addition we saw a fairly wide-range in moisture on these samples, from a low of 67 to a high of 78.  Although we weren’t able to gather maturity rankings for all the samples, on those that we did it was pretty obvious that the earlier maturing varieties we’re in the upper 60’s and very low 70’s for moisture and we’re approaching or in the “hard-dent”  (= ¼ milk) range kernel development!  These samples in particular are ready to harvest, particularly if going into a pile or bunker.  Waiting much longer on the earlier maturing varieties is only going to mean a drier, more mature plant, which leads to poor packing and poor fermentation, lower fiber digestibility, and poorer ruminal starch degradability – all of which dramatically reduce the animals’ ability to convert the plant nutrients to meat & milk.

For the bulk of the remaining samples with middle to later maturity dates and moisture that falls into the range of 71-74%,  we noticed that kernel development was more like “half-dent” (= ½ milk).  While these plants have a little ways to go, the warmer temperatures over the next several days are likely to speed up the Dry-Down-Rate and bring maturity into the harvest window much faster.  Again Mother Nature rules and the weather pattern we experience will dictate the result, but I would expect that an awful lot of varieties that fell into this range would be ready for chopping in 7-10 days.  72% moisture right now with ½ point Dry-Down in the next 8 days brings these samples down to 68%!  So I would be prepared and in ready mode. 

As a final thought remember that as we move through the month of September we approach the time where we could see a killing frost at any time (average date for Rochester is October 1st-10th).  If this occurs BEFORE you begin chopping you’ll want to have your “training shoes for the olympics” on because at that point it’s going to feel like you can’t get the job done fast enough.

Additionally if any of us at All American Co-op can be of any further assistance, or if you’d like an individual sample taken from your farm in the next couple weeks please let one of our team members know.  Your business is our business – our job is to help you be more successful!  Thanks for supporting these events and for choosing All American Co-op.

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