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During the 2014 growing season, the weather has been consistently cooler and wetter in the central and northern portions of Michigan, and frost has occurred in several locations during the latter days of summer. In most years, corn silage harvest starts in late August and early September for most producers. The reduction of growing degree day units and early frost will mean immature corn silage will be harvested in many locations leading to differences in silage quality compared to years with normal growth and development.
When evaluating corn silage quality, most producers consider protein and energy or starch content as the most important characteristics to determine the value of the crop. Immature harvested corn silage will have lower dry matter (DM) yield, starch and energy concentrations, and higher sugar, crude protein and neutral detergent fiber (NDF) concentrations as compared to mature corn silage. Dry matter yield and digestibility of immature corn silage are highest at the time of the first frost and additional losses occur as frosted corn remains in the field. This has led to reduced milk yields after repeated frost events. In addition, the corn silage might have higher effluent losses and extensive fermentation that could reduce dry matter intakes.
To manage a frosted immature crop, several factors should be considered at harvest:
The best suggestion for producers when harvesting frosted corn silage is to use the basic principles that go hand in hand with good management practices.
Source: Michigan State University Extension
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