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Harvesting High-Moisture Corn and Earlage

Harvesting High-Moisture Corn and Earlage

Producers who raise both corn and cattle have the option of harvesting some or all of their corn acres as a high-moisture grain crop to be marketed through cattle. There are several advantages to harvesting corn earlier at a high-moisture content including:

Avoiding drying costs.

Earlier harvest window helps spreads out workload and allows for earlier residue grazing or harvest.

Reduced risk of adverse weather in late fall/winter months. Reduced pre-harvest field losses (3 to 6%).

Improved palatability high similar feed values compared to dry corn.

Cattle feeders do need to carefully manage the harvest and storage process in order to preserve as much feed value as possible and optimize their returns.

High-Moisture Corn

Harvesting at the correct moisture content is the first and arguably the most critical factor in managing high-moisture corn. The optimal moisture content ranges from 28-34 percent. Harvesting at drier than optimal results in reduced starch digestibility and increased risk of spoilage. Crop conditions can change quickly, so growers need to be prepared to fill storage facilities rapidly or be able to switch fields as conditions change.

Bacterial inoculants should be considered with high-moisture corn, especially if harvest delays occur or moisture contents are at the lower end of the acceptability range. Cooler temperatures in the fall can compromise some of the viability of naturally occurring bacteria and high-moisture corn has lower levels of sugars compared to traditional corn silage to promote rapid fermentation. Inoculants containing Lactobacillus buchneri strains have been shown to be beneficial to help insure successful fermentation. Inoculants containing L. buchneri have been shown to help reduce heating when the bunker or bag face is exposed to air during feedout.



Photo Credit: gettyimages-oticki

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Categories: South Dakota, Crops, Corn, Harvesting

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