Fall Fieldwork

The guys finished the first round of silage chopping back at the beginning of August. We mentioned several times that we had some corn come up late, and they just finished chopping that corn this week. Our first corn had a decent amount of grain for its size and actually yielded a better quality silage than last year’s crop; there was just quite a bit less of it because the plants were so short. It has been tested and is being fed to the milk cows without incident from nitrates or aflatoxin.

The late corn may be a different story. There was very little grain on even shorter plants. The grain that was there was drier and the plants were greener than corn we traditionally chop. We will need to test the silage for both nitrates and aflatoxin. If it contains aflatoxin, we may still be able to feed it to heifers that won’t be milking. If it contains nitrates, it would be harmful to any animal, but it’s our understanding that the chemical process that occurs in the silo would solve the nitrate issue.

We chopped 100% of our corn, so we haven’t had to get the combine out yet. Our soybeans are only about knee-hight, but they put some pods on. They won’t be ready to harvest for a few weeks and have just started to “turn” in the last week or so. As the plants dry down, they change color from green to gold.

Soybean foliage turns from green to gold as the plants dry out before harvest.

Besides fall harvest, the guys have been planting fall crops. We planted three different forages on one farm.  First, we borrowed a no-till drill from a neighbor to plant oats that we hope to chop for silage this fall. They’re up and growing – probably about 4” tall. We hope they grow quite a bit more before we get a hard frost. We also used the no-till drill to plant rye that we will chop next spring. The rye is growing well (about 6” tall now), and we may also be able to mow it this fall if it gets tall enough. We then worked the ground on part of the farm and seeded alfalfa. We will mow and bale the alfalfa 3 or 4 times each year for the next three years.

We also ordered seed for both triticale and turnips which we will plant on one of the other farms that we just finished chopping. Rather than harvesting these forages, we plan to graze heifers on that farm.

We’re trying to raise enough feed for our cows and calves for the next year, so we have to be somewhat creative with our crop rotations and are trying some of these forage crops for the first time (triticale and turnips). Hopefully we’ll continue to get some moisture and the frost will hold off long enough to produce some feed to supplement what we’ve already harvested.  In the meantime, we’ll be busy in the field

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