To Manage Silo Filling Based On Corn Moisture

On September 27, 2018

To Manage Silo Filling Based On Corn Moisture

Getting into the field at the proper time to chop silage can be a challenge, regardless of year and weather conditions, but with extreme wet conditions the challenges can multiply. The ideal moisture for silage depends on the silo type where it will be stored. For horizontal silos, 65–70% is the ideal range, for conventional upright silos the ideal moisture is 63–68%, for oxygen-limiting upright silos the moisture range is 55–60%, for a bag it is 60–70% and for a pile or stack the ideal moisture range is pile or stack  65–70%.

Extension Agronomists Jessica Williamson and Delbert Voight remind us if not monitored closely, the corn could go from ideal moisture to too dry, increasing the risk of storage losses.  After the fields dry and equipment can safely enter, it is important to remember that the corn is drying quickly as well.  Silage harvested below the optimal moisture content can be difficult to pack and lead to a failure in excluding air to ensure proper fermentation, resulting in molding and heating of the forage, and in turn reducing quality.

In the case of chopping silage that has become drier than the optimal moisture according to your storage facility, there are some management recommendations that can aid in ensuring proper fermentation and quality of your forage.

Decreasing length of cut and creating a finer particle helps to promote better packing, as well as increases the digestibility of the kernel.  However, when the particle size is smaller as a result of the finer chop, rations should be modified to ensure adequate digestive fiber.

Water can be uniformly added to dry silage to increase moisture content to aid in proper fermentation.  When adding water to silage, the fill rate of most silos should be slowed as a result of slow water flow from most garden hoses and to ensure uniform water distribution.

Liquid inoculant additives can be used to promote aerobic stability, such as propionic acid and Lactobacillus buchneri, and decrease mold growth.  These inoculants should be added at concentrations based on the manufacturer’s instructions.

Kernel processing helps silage to pack more densely which could lead to better stability of aerobic organisms, helping to aid in proper fermentation, as well as boosting the forage quality by increasing starch digestibility of the kernel, which could be a problem in dry silage.

Corn silage samples collected in Southeastern PA from September 13-17 dropped in moisture form 2-4 percent over those four days. 

To Plant Certified Wheat and Barley Seed 

High quality seed is the first input for successful crop production. Using certified seed ensures varietal purity, optimum seed health, uniform and fast germination, reduced number of weed seeds in the seedlot, and a minimal risk for the introduction of noxious weeds in your fields. Extension Plant Pathologists Alyssa Collins, Paul Esker, and Adriana Murillo-Williams explain the high-quality standards of certified seed are obtained during seed production, through phytosanitary inspections and strict disease and weed control. 

Commercial wheat (Triticum spp.) and barley (Hordeum vulgare) are self-pollinating plants, with average outcrossing rates of less than 1%. This means that most of the harvested  grain will have the same genetic makeup as the crop they were harvested from. Consequently, grain is sometimes used as seed for the next growing season. From a plant health standpoint, using farm-saved seed (grain) is not a recommended practice since seeds are highly effective means for the movement of plant pathogens within a field, and across large areas. The use of farm saved seed can also perpetuate the presence of viable dispersal units (inocula) and survival structures of plant pathogens that affected the previous crop, in addition to soilborne and airborne inocula. In other words, planting saved seed increases your chances of having a future crop with disease, weed, or stand issues.

Any pathogen accompanying the seed either internally or externally is considered to be seedborne. Seedborne pathogens have the potential to directly affect seed germination and vigor, or the developing plants. Many seedborne pathogens will survive seed processing stages like sorting, cleaning, drying, and storage, and for this reason, the use of farmed saved seed is more challenging even if seed conditioning is performed or seed treatments are applied. 

Here is the list of seedborne diseases of wheat and barley. Loose smut affects both barley and wheat while leaf stripe is a disease of barley only. Net blotch impacts only barley while ergot affects both barley and wheat. Covered smut and basal glume rot impact barley only. Bacterial blight and fusarium head blight impact both crops. Common bunt is a wheat disease while crown rot and root rot impact both barley and wheat. 

One example of a seedborne pathogen that reduces seed germination and causes seedling blight is Fusarium graminearum, the predominant causal agent of Fusarium head blight  Under optimal weather conditions the fungus infects the floret. Depending on the time of infection, seeds may not develop, or seeds may be shriveled, chalky white, pink to purple, and symptomless infection may occur.  While seeds planted from a lot infected with F. graminearum will not grow into plants infected with head scab, emergence may be reduced by 80% and seedlings will be at greater risk of rot.

Planting certified seed will ensure a clean start for small grain production and the establishment of vigorous and healthy plants. For more information see:

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