July 9, 2002


Here are some guidelines on what we might do with corn for grazing, haying or putting up silage.

The drought stricken corn will not make good silage because the stalk is too wet and when it goes in the silo it will be real mushy and will seep.  Consequently, it will not firm up very well.  I would advise against making silage on corn cut directly out of the field.  If the corn plants have grown and tasseled and there are some ears out there, then it might make good silage.  Right now the corn is pre-tassel and would not make good silage.

If you graze the corn, you should put up an electric fence and only graze a few rows each day to make sure that you utilize the forage fully.  If you’re worried about nitrate, sample the top 2/3 of the plant and the bottom 1/3 as 2 separate samples because normally the top is low in nitrate the lower stalk is high in nitrate.  If the top is low in nitrate you could graze it and if the bottom stalk is high in nitrate you would have to watch the intensity of the grazing.   If both were low in nitrate you could graze clear down to the ground. 

Corn plants make excellent forage as a hay crop.  The leaves will have probably 15-16% protein.  The biggest problem is that the plant needs to be crimped to get the stalk to dry, otherwise it will take a long time for the stalk to dry enough to be baled.  A nitrate test should be run on the full plant, cut at a height where it would be swathed or mowed to bale.  Normally you would not want to sacrifice yield by cutting too high, so normally you would want to cut at about 6 inches above the soil surface and leave that stalk there.