The weekend before last we wrapped up the most stressful time of year: corn silage chopping. Despite a few days of breakdowns, we finished filling our big silo and much of our small silo in exactly two weeks. I’ve written some about the process in the past. Basically the chopper cuts up the entire corn plant into small pieces and unloads into a dump wagon, which is unloaded into dump a truck, which unloads in our pit silos. Then, using the skid loader and tractor, the silage is piled and packed.
I posted a photo on Facebook a couple of weeks ago of disaster rows. Because we don’t combine all of our corn, it’s pretty tough to estimate the amount of grain per acre. The corn has to be chopped when the moisture is just right, so we leave a few rows in each field (called disaster rows) for a crop adjuster to examine to estimate our yields. This year, we had the adjuster come a few days before we finished chopping so that we could go ahead and chop the disaster rows before they got too dry.
The adjuster looks at several ears and counts the kernels on each ear along with the number of ears in an area. He then uses his experience to estimate our yields. We were a little disappointed in his assessment, but the corn was stressed earlier this summer when it didn’t rain for several weeks, so the kernels are lighter than during an average growing season. The majority of our crop was estimated around 100 bpa (bushel per acre). We also had him estimate the corn we will harvest later this fall, so we hope it will overachieve and possibly allow us to revise his estimates. These values will affect our average yields that are used to determine insurance payments in years when we need them.
Last year, due to the drought, we had to chop 100% of our corn for silage, and we still didn’t get a lot. As a result, we had to purchase a lot of corn and other feed to supplement our silage. Thankfully, this year we were able to leave about 30% of our corn to be harvested for grain later this fall. We also have some milo that we will harvest as grain and some forage sorghum that will be chopped for additional silage (and hopefully fill the remainder of the small silo). The sorghum will be used to feed dry cows and heifers this winter and should help us limit the amount of hay we have to feed. We’re looking forward to having more options for feeding our cows and heifers.
- Forage Sorghum Harvest (arizonaag.com)
- Fall arrives on the farm, and with it a change in chores (qctimes.com)
- Corn silage moisture dropping fast! (alliedcooperative.wordpress.com)