"We have plenty of late-planted corn and soybeans, which could
be nipped by an early frost," said Mike Hutjens. "It is
important that dairy producers understand the alternatives and
strategies should this occur."
The first scenario involves
late-corn silage. The main differences will be yield (tons of
dry matter per acre) and starch content.
"Allowing the corn crop to try to reach optimal maturity is
recommended. Wait to harvest as long as the plant is growing,"
he said. "Growing degree-days in the fall and a killing frost
will be factors that determine how mature your corn is when
Harvested immature corn silage at 30-34 percent dry matter
should be stored in bags, bunkers and piles. Drier silage (35-40
percent dry matter) should be kept in vertical structures,
depending on height and diameter of the silo, to minimize
Key factors in determining whether to use this alternative
will be the price to pay for the standing corn crop, harvesting
costs (lower yields and wet conditions can be higher) and
potential higher storage losses from seepage and fermentation.
"When pricing standing corn silage, estimate or weigh the dry
matter harvested --weighing silage box or truckloads, for
example -- and agree on price per ton, such as $45 a ton for 33
percent dry matter," he said. "If the silage is wetter -- do not
buy water -- or lower in starch content, the price needs to be
"Testing the immature corn silage for starch, neutral
detergent fiber, acid detergent fiber lignin, soluble nitrogen
and NDF digestibility will allow for optimal ration balancing,"
Hutjens said. "Sugar content and NDFD may be improved, as the
stalk will not contain as much indigestible fiber and sugars are
not converted to starch."
Acid detergent fiber and neutral detergent fiber are known as
ADF and NDF, respectively, with NDFD indicating neutral
detergent fiber digestibility.
Another scenario involves immature corn grain that might be
available in some areas.
"Immature corn harvested as high-moisture corn is an
excellent grain alternative for dairy and beef cattle. It avoids
high drying costs, allows for earlier harvest, and minimizes ear
drop and weather risks," he said.
[to top of second column]
"High-moisture corn can be stored in a silo, plastic bag or bunkers.
Depending on herd size, feeding 6 inches from the surface can
maintain quality and avoid mold and yeast formation."
Managers, he added, can harvest the wet corn as high-moisture
shelled corn, 26-30 percent moisture; high-moisture ear corn, 28-32
percent moisture; or snaplage, which is the ear, husk and parts of
the corn plant at 35-38 percent moisture.
"Inoculants for wet corn are recommended to improve
fermentation," he said.
The final scenario involves immature soybeans.
"With late planting and flooded areas, some soybean fields will
not reach maturity and may be available for purchase in your area,"
he said. "Immature soybean forage will be similar to alfalfa-legume
forage and should be harvested by a similar approach -- cut, wilted
and harvested at similar moisture levels, based on your storage
unit. It should be stored in bags, a bunker or vertical silo.
"Baling will be difficult, as dry conditions will be less
favorable in the last fall."
Harvesting soybeans at the pod formation stage will optimize
yield and quality -- aiming for 1 to 2 tons of dry matter per acre
at 18 percent crude protein and 0.55 to 0.60 megacalories per pound
of dry matter.
"Harvesting earlier will reduce yield," Hutjens cautioned. "Avoid
leaf loss/dropping that leads to lower protein content and dry
matter yield. Inoculating soybean silage is recommended.
"Green soybean seed will feed similar to regular soybeans but can
be lower in oil and nutrient content. Heat-treating wet and immature
soybeans will require more heat and energy to improve rumen-undegraded
protein levels. Check herbicide labels for restrictions if the
soybeans have been sprayed."
[Text from file received from