Whether custom forage harvesters think Shredlage is valid or not, the alternative crop processing method has brought a renewed focus on how corn kernels should be processed.

At the recent U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc., (USCHI) Convention, the use of Penn State Particle Separators, called shaker boxes, was urged by USCHI vice president Jon Orr. He’s also a custom forage harvester from Apple Creek, OH. The shaker boxes give producers and harvesters a visual method of evaluating particle length.

“How many people have their customers use Penn State boxes when they’re chopping?” he asked the forage harvesting contingent attending the convention. “Nobody? Are nutritionists doing it? Are you relying on them to do it or are you there when they’re doing it?

“We need to step up and start understanding this stuff. We need to say (to clients): ‘Can you get a Penn State box out here and shake this with me? I want to see what I’m doing wrong. I want to see what you’re after.’ ”

Representative corn silage samples are shaken onto a series of three or four screens ranging from coarse to fine. Ideally, 70% of the forage mass should be on the top two screens and no kernels should be found on either one.

Two other field tests could help harvesters and clients look at how well crop processors are cracking kernels and how they should adjust length of cut and roll gap. So suggested Randy Shaver, University of Wisconsin Extension dairy nutritionist.

Pioneer developed a test using a 32-oz beverage cup filled with chopped corn. If more than two or three half or whole kernels are found, roll gap or length of cut should be adjusted, he said.

Shaver likes what he called “the flotation test.” A couple of handfuls of representative crop are put into a dishpan of water and stirred to separate floating material from more-dense kernels that sink to the pan’s bottom. Once the water and floating material are drained off, producers and harvesters can take a good look at what’s left and evaluate how well the kernels have been processed.

Information on that test can be found in “Making Sure Your Kernel Processor Is Doing Its Job."