Accurately determining corn whole plant moisture is important when harvesting for corn silage. Harvesting corn for silage too early (high moisture content) or too late (low moisture content) can affect forage yield, quality and silage fermentation, says John Peters, director of the Marshfield Soil and Forage Analysis Laboratory in Marshfield, Wis. 

Whole plant moisture content typically changes by 0.5 units per day and in dry conditions can change by up to 1.0 unit per day.

In the past, growers have used benchmark stages of kernel maturity (black-layer development or kernel milk-line position) to estimate when to harvest corn for silage. Because of the variability associated with these methods, growers have been encouraged to periodically check actual whole plant moisture of plants from various fields on their farm, Peters says.

However, the success of this strategy is dependent on obtaining an accurate moisture content measurement in a timely manner.

Learn more about the accuracy of several on-farm moisture measurement techniques.

Source: University of Wisconsin