The delayed arrival of spring weather, constant rains this summer and saturated fields have producers wondering when to harvest hay.
The wet conditions also impede hay’s drydown. Thus, the chances of putting up hay that is too wet are much higher this year, also increasing the risk of hay fires, warns J.W. Schroeder, the North Dakota State University Extension Service’s dairy specialist.
Agronomists note that a rough estimate of the proper silage harvest period is somewhere between 35 and 45 days after tassel emergence. In some areas tasseling began close to July 11 on the earliest-planted corn.
This would indicate that silage harvest should begin close to the third week of August, but in some drought areas silage harvest has begun already.
Many growers today are looking for ways to maximize corn yields and on-farm profitability, whether that means increasing milk production, reducing ration costs or boosting weight gain in beef cattle. However, when it comes to corn silage, sometimes less can be more.
Recent university research shows that although increasing silage chop height reduces tonnage, it also can improve feed value significantly.