Interest in harvesting and storing high-moisture corn has grown, says Herb Bucholtz, professor emeritus at Michigan State University. Factors such as high corn-drying costs have contributed to this growing interest.

Emphasis on proper moisture levels at harvest is key if you want to put up a good product, Bucholtz said last month at the 2012 Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference.

Successful fermentation depends on kernel moisture levels at harvest. If kernel moisture is too dry, you get poor fermentation, less acid production and more chance of spoilage during storage, Bucholtz said. If it’s too wet, excessive fermentation can occur, and that can lead to rapid starch digestibility in the rumen.  Starch digestibility changes over time during storage, which can accentuate this problem if the high-moisture corn is stored at moisture levels that are too high.

Harvest high-moisture shelled corn and high-moisture ear corn at a kernel moisture range of 24 to 36 percent. Harvest snaplage at a kernel moisture range of 24 to 34 percent, Bucholtz said.

A moisture tester is necessary for putting up high-moisture corn with an appropriate kernel moisture range.

“Moisture testing is key, particularly when you’re working with a $6-per-bushel corn product,” Bucholtz said.

Moisture analysis can be done with in-field electronic moisture testers or with moisture-testing tools like the Koster Moisture Tester or a microwave.