Corn Silage Harvest is Not Far Away

Robb Wock, DPC – Purina Animal Nutrition LLC
August 23th, 2016                                           

     84 samples of whole-plant Corn intended for Corn Silage harvest were checked for moisture at the All-American Co-op Progressive Ag Center location in Plainview on August 22nd.  These samples came from various areas throughout SE Minnesota, ranging in maturity from 95 days to as much as 114, averaging about 106 days.  The result was an average of 71.6% moisture, with a range from a low of 67% to a high of 75%. Experience has taught us that it is advisable to add 2-3% moisture to these numbers simply because while we try to implement techniques during sample collection that give us the best chance for field representation, these techniques cannot take the place of harvesting larger areas into 1 collection point such as beef producers & dairymen do when they combine larger portions of plant mass into a wagon or truckload.  In other words there is a lot more field variation than we are able to get a handle on or represent with the “smaller” sampling we gather for this type of event.  In reality this suggests the overall average is likely closer to 73-74%, with the range being from 69% to 77%. 

     Although “whole-plant-moisture” is considered the golden rule-of-thumb in today’s world when considering the timing of harvest, the real questions are – “what will the DRY-DOWN rate be?”  And “when will I have the HIGHEST STARCH DIGESTABILITY?”  Depending on our weather pattern the first question is the hardest to answer.  But as we consider DRY-DOWN it’s important to note kernel maturation.  By in large most of the corn checked for moisture in Plainview on the 22nd fell into the “fully-dented” range, with a few showing only “early-dent”.  At “full-dent” grain moisture is generally between 45-55%, with whole-plant-moisture at about 73% or so.  This put most of the Corn at ½ MILK-LINE with a higher proportion somewhere between ½ and ¾.  In order to take advantage of the highest starch digestability we should be harvesting now, but since our plants are behind the kernel again this year and we may see too much runoff & nutrient losses after packing this will be difficult to achieve.  So make sure your kernel processors are operating properly and be ready to increase your aggressiveness in this area.  If we assume a ½ point DRY-DOWN / day and want to lose about 4 points before harvest than I would suggest we are only 7-8 days away!   This is particularly true for anyone storing in BUNKERS or PILE’s,  whereas storage in a BAG may be 3-5 days after that, and a SILO following up last at about 7 days or so after that of a bunker.  Keep in mind that these are strictly estimates and really depend on the weather.  

     It should also be noted that if you are considering harvesting “snaplage” or “earlage” that it is likely best to get that done BEFORE Corn Silage!!  We ran a sample through our chipper and dried it down for moisture and found it at 47% … ideally EARLAGE is best if put up between 40 & 50%, with 35% acceptable if storing in silo’s.  This is the 2nd year in-a-row this has happened and is primarily because the plant maturation is lagging somewhat behind that of the kernels & ears. 

All-American Co-op Progressive Ag Center will be holding another Corn Silage Burn-Down event on Friday, September 2nd in St. Charles.  If you haven’t already started this should be an excellent time to re-evaluate where things are at and allows us an even better opportunity to narrow down your harvest window.


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