Weather conditions have been highly variable this summer.
As I drive through northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania, I see beautiful fields of corn, and a few miles away I see drought-stunted fields where it looks like corn is already dying.
It is important you monitor the condition of the corn crop, especially if you have drought conditions; be sure you are ready to harvest when the corn is ready.
In the following paragraphs I will point out some of my concerns relative to corn silage harvest and suggest some possible solutions.
The decisions you make over the next 30 days will affect the quality of corn silage made this fall and will impact the productivity and health of the dairy herd for the next year.
Drought-stressed corn. Inadequate water, other plant stresses, and high application of nitrogen fertilizer can cause nitrates to accumulate in the vegetative portions of corn plants.
Plants require less soil moisture to absorb nitrates than is necessary to attain maximum plant growth.
During a drought, plants can uptake nitrates, but cannot convert them into plant proteins as rapidly as during normal growing conditions.
This causes nitrates to accumulate in certain plants.
After an extended dry period, rainfall may cause an immediate increase in nitrates for 2 to 3 days until the plant’s growth begins to respond by converting nitrates to protein.
The highest concentration of nitrates will be in the lower part of the plant. Therefore, a sample for nitrate analysis of plants to be chopped must be representative of the whole plant.
Corn plants containing 1,000 parts per million of nitrate nitrogen may have the following distribution of nitrate nitrogen in various plant parts: stalk, lower one-third,