Late planted corn could make better silage than grain

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Editor’s note: The following article was written by Dennis Stein, Michigan State University extension business management educator.

Corn growers with late planted fields of corn may want to buffer the risk by selling selected fields for corn silage. Dairy and beef cattle producers will begin harvesting corn silage fields as they reach black layer maturity or total plant dry matter reaches optimum levels.

Now is a good time and may be mutually beneficial for crop farms to contact livestock farms and for livestock farms to contact crop producers to work out a win-win business arrangement to harvest some of this year’s late planted corn crop has resulted in an opportunity for both farms to lower economic and production risk.

Some of the corn that was planted early this summer still remains well behind the optimum growth stage for this point in the summer growing season. Warmer than normal July temperatures helped to do some catch-up in the growth stages, but some fields are still lagging from the late planting date.

This will place some crop farmers in a situation that their corn may never make full maturity before frost this fall. Frosted corn with moisture in the high 30 percent range is very expensive to dry, has huge shrink, often low test weight and may generate some extra handling charges when delivered to the local elevator.  

Some corn fields will not make harvestable corn this season and will have a value generated by collection of crop insurance value to the farm producer. In doing some checking with your crop insurance provider, you may see if your policy will allow the sale of corn silage to lower the risk, yet not void the value of your crop insurance policy.

For corn fields that are covered under a crop insurance policy, you will want to have pre harvest yield checks or leave mandatory rows for yield checks later in the season. Be sure you check with your crop insurance agent to make sure any action you take is in compliance with the coverage of your policy.

Dairy or beef farms looking to find methods to keep their cost of production low, may want to consider the purchase of some discounted silage corn fields from neighboring cash crop farms. If a crop producer is nervous that some of their late planted corn may not make a good grain crop and they are light on crop insurance coverage, then the sale of a corn field or two for corn silage may be the a win- win situation for both farms.

Many locations and fields were planted late this growing season and have a high risk of frost injury, limiting the crops ability to mature to a harvestable corn grain crop. In some cases if the crop is taken to grain harvest the increased shrink, drying and quality discounts could make the crop unprofitable to harvest.  

Taking a silage crop may, in some cases, be the very best option for a corn field even if it means selling that silage crop directly to a livestock producer in the area. A short corn crop will yield only a few tons of corn silage, but if you roll the dice and go to grain or ear corn harvest some fields will yield next to nothing.

Resources and information related to late planted corn crop can be found at: http://news.msue.msu.edu/news/article/feed_resources_index  

Additional resources to help farms establish a reasonable corn silage value can be found at:


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