If you got a late start planting your silage corn crop this year or you’re worried about an early frost, don’t fret. There are a few simple things you can do to stay on track for a successful harvest.
When dealing with a shorter growing season, Mycogen Seeds commercial agronomist Jon Erikson recommends keeping a closer eye on few things:
- Monitor growing degree units (GDUs).
Lower or slower GDU accumulation indicates plant development is behind. But warmer weather can speed GDU accumulation, so the crop matures at a faster pace.
Watch GDU accumulation closely into the fall to help prepare for optimum harvest timing. This free Corn Growing Degree Day (GDD) decision support tool from the Midwestern Regional Climate Center (MRCC) provides some real-time information — everything from projected crop development to likelihood of early frost — that can also help in making harvest decisions.
- Track corn development after silking.
Harvest typically begins about 40 to 45 days after midsilk. So, keeping a calendar that lists 30 days after silking in the field will allow you to track development and weather conditions at the right time until the crop has reached proper moisture for harvest.
- Keep an eye on moisture levels and grain fill.
Loss of crucial nutrients and quality impacts can occur when harvesting silage that’s too wet and when kernels aren’t fully filled. Even if grain fill is behind given the shorter season, it is important to first monitor moisture levels so you can harvest at 65% to 70% whole-plant moisture to help preserve silage quality.
Even in a shortened growing season, it’s possible to get high-quality corn silage to feed dairy cows. If you can end up with good fiber digestibility, which can be achieved with Mycogen® brand BMR or Unified™ corn silage, a nutritionist can add starch to get a good ration. And a good ration is a critical part of the equation to make milk profitably.For more information about managing your silage corn into harvest, contact your local Mycogen Seeds agronomist or your local ag retailer. During and after harvest, your nutritionist can help assess silage quality, run tests to analyze the forage and build a new feeding plan based on what’s in the bunker.