If your corn crop gets too dry for best silage-making, chop it finer than usual and pack it well, suggests Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska Extension forage specialist.
He points out that dry silage often heats and molds, lowering its energy content and protein digestibility. That happens because the silage is difficult to pack, and oxygen remains imbedded in it.
Adding water to increase moisture content is next to impossible, says Anderson. It takes about 7 gallons of water for each ton of silage to raise moisture content just one point. Even if you have enough water, the chopped corn can’t absorb it fast enough to do any good.
Another solution may be to blend it with a wetter feed, like fresh alfalfa, forage sorghum, green soybeans or maybe some later-planted corn that’s still quite green. It can be tricky to get the right combination, but it can produce excellent silage, he says.
Your main goal must be to minimize oxygen in the silage, and two ways to help accomplish that are to adjust knives to cut finer and do some extra packing.
“I also suggest saving your wettest forage for the top layer. This helps add extra packing weight and gets better sealing. And if you do have water handy, apply it to this top layer for even more packing weight.”Silage piles and bunkers should always be covered with plastic, but sealing out oxygen with plastic is especially important with dryer-than-normal silage, Anderson adds.