by Brock Skov

It’s the time of year when we’re thinking about chopping corn silage! Where did the summer go?  It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that we had snow on the ground.The question has been, when will my corn silage be ready to chop? We don’t have the answer, but I could see some of it being ready in the next couple of weeks if we stay in this dry pattern we have been in.  We are in desperate need of some moisture. In the past we have had our burn down days just after Labor Day but this year we are planning to have them the week before.  Look for a separate communication on dates, time and locations of the burn down days.  We will have bunker covers available along with silage inoculants and preservatives. Let us know what your needs are for these products and we can have them for you.

Now is a great time to be evaluating your corn silage fields for hybrid performance, potential nutrient deficiencies and if any diseases are present.  Talk to your agronomist to set up a time to walk your fields and evaluate them. There are visible nutrient deficiencies present in some fields, namely nitrogen and potash. Disease pressure up until this point has been relatively low with minimal northern corn leaf blight, eye spot and rust pressure present. We still feel that you will see a benefit if you applied a fungicide as the corn plants are under moisture stress at this point.

Another topic that has been discussed is chopping height? How high or low should we be chopping our corn silage? All I can do is provide you with some information from Answer Plot trials that have been done on this topic. By no means is this a recommendation on chopping height. The numbers are averages from 12 different hybrids at 4 different locations chopped at 6 inches and at 18 inches. The average difference by going from 6 to 18 inches was 4.85 ton decrease in dry matter per acre, the average starch number increased by 2.55% and the average NDFD number increased by 1.96%. The data shows us that you obviously have fewer tons of dry matter per acre when you go from 6 to 18 inches, approximately 2 tons of dry matter for every 6-inch increase in cutting height, with your % starch and NDFD increasing. There are many factors that come into play such as hybrid, the growing season and conditions at harvest. You must decide what is the correct chopping height for your operation.

Hopefully you will have a chance to bring a sample in to be tested at one of the burn down days.  If you are unable to attend one of the days, you can still bring a sample in to be tested.  Contact your nutritionist and/or agronomist and we can help you get that done.