Some Wisconsin growers are already chopping late-planted, drought-stricken corn for silage, reports Joe Lauer, University of Wisconsin (UW) Extension corn agronomist.

But there’s nearly a month left of potential grain production, and rain is in the forecast, he says. Rather than chop the crop now, growers should inspect fields to determine which to harvest for silage and which to combine for grain, Lauer suggests. Then they should set up their harvest “queue.”

“If they know which field is furthest along in development and which one is the furthest behind, they can queue (rank) their fields as to which will likely mature before a killing frost. That would go a long way in deciding how many acres to sell and how many acres to keep for grain,” he says.

Corn and soybean fields are behind in development after a wet, cold spring delayed plantings and, now, because of dry weather.

“If they don’t get rain, those who harvest  (silage now) will look like champs making the correct decision,” he says. “But if we do get a little bit of rain, we could have a corn crop that could still put on a lot of starch yet, which will help its quality.”

Corn that hits dent stage by Sept. 1 has produced only 60-75% of its potential yield, Lauer warns. “The month of September, we still get a lot of yield and every day that goes by we’re gaining 4-7 bu/acre.”

Growers are, of course, also worried about that first killing frost, he says. “And that’s the quandary we’re in; we just don’t know when that frost is going to occur.”

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Growers can harvest insured crops for silage, even if insured as grain, but growers must first consult with their crop insurance agents, says Paul Mitchell, UW Extension ag economist.

Adjustors will assess fields for yield or require growers to leave strips in fields to help determine yield and their insurance payments.

Growers should also remember that payments for insured corn used for silage will be based not only on low yields, but also on how grain-deficient the silage ends up, Mitchell adds.

He offers more information in the publication, “Drought And Alternative Uses Of Insured Crops: Can I Chop My Insured Corn for Silage?”

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