Baling Drought Corn with Little to No Ear?

Dr. Bill Weiss, OSU/OARDC, Professor and Extension Specialist suggests…

“It could be done but there is a lot of down side.  First the stalks have to be dry enough to be stable (less than 15% moisture).  If the plants are mowed and crushed, they might dry but it will take a while and this reduces nutrient quality, can be a risk for mold and maybe if we are “lucky”-rain damage.  If moisture is too high, the stuff has little economic or nutritional value.  If the stalks are dry enough to bale, leaf loss will occur which reduces the nutrient value (corn stalks are very high in fiber, lignin and low in protein and digestibility.  Losing leaves will reduce protein, digestibility and energy value of the corn plant.

To get much nutritional value out of this stuff it would have to be chopped before feeding otherwise animals will likely eat the leaves and leave most of the stalks.

My guess is the nutritional value of this will be 60% of the overall nutritional value of decent corn silage.  Forages will likely be in very tight supply so the grower might find a market and if it is dry enough, he would probably make more money on it than it costs to harvest.  It would probably be adequate feed for beef cow maintenance and could make up part of the diet of dry dairy cows and growing heifers.

Q. What about into moist wrapped balage?

A.  I do not think making corn balage would be successful.  You would not get very tight bales, lots of air is trapped in the stems and you would not release many plant sugars to feed the bacteria.


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