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The points of contact between Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service and the grower & business communities are the NJ County Agricultural Agents. The agents are a tremendous source of information for both new and experienced growers.
Visit your local county extension office.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Corn Silage Harvesting

While many fields are too wet to even think about harvesting corn for silage, some early planted corn may be past the ideal stage for harvest. The hotter than normal summer coupled with the excessive rains in August have set up a mixed set of signals in the corn plant relative to harvest for silage. Typically we recommend watching the progression of the milk line and formation of the black layer in kernals which normally coincides with desired whole plant moisture in the 60-70% range. With some early planted corn, we are actually past black layer but, because of the rains, stalks and leaves have remained very green and plants are loaded with water. Hopefully as fields dry out enough for harvest so will plants. If not, and for later planted corn, there is a good discussion of kernal maturity versus plant moisture and other related corn silage tips in the National Corn Handbook  http://www.ces.purdue.edu/extmedia/nch/nch-49.html. Drought stress followed by heavy rains has also set up the potential for problems like Nitrate toxicity(although extended periods since drought should reduce this problem) and toxin buildup(aflatoxin and others). The National Corn Handbook is also a resource for these potential problems. http://www.ces.purdue.edu/extmedia/NCH/NCH-52-W.html; http://www.ces.purdue.edu/extmedia/NCH/NCH-58.html

Zane R. Helsel

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