The relationship of corn silage harvest moisture and maturity to its quality and performance is often underestimated. The energy content of earlage varies with harvest method and the amount of roughage ensiled with the grain (Table 1). Harvest methods that collect a larger proportion of stalk (for example, all-crop headers) will produce a lower-energy earlage product than harvest methods that only ensile grain and a portion of the cob.
Corn silage maturity at harvest has a dramatic impact on the nutritional value of individual hybrids. University of Wisconsin data over many years show a range in whole-plant moisture at one-half milk line of 52 to 72 percent with an average of 63 percent. They may actually be a better choice for farmers growing both small grains and corn.
Any serious stress like water deficiency can greatly reduce yields and the quality of the popcorn. The nutrient content of earlage varies depending on the harvest method. Phantom yield loss is worse if the corn dries down, is rewetted by rain and humid weather, and then has to dry down again.
Monitor losses behind the combine and grain quality in the grain tank throughout the day. Grow sweetcorn in a sheltered, sunny position, protected from strong wind, on any fertile garden soil. Sweet corn varieties lose their sweetness soon after harvesting. Gathering loss includes ears missed or lost by the machine, kernels shelled and lost by the stalk rolls or cornhead, which is where most harvest loss occurs.
Recent work at UW-Madison harvested snaplage at 0.35” TLOC and 1 mm processor gap and resulted in similar particle size of the grain portion compared to RHMC and an estimated total tract starch digestibility of 97% (Akins and Shaver, 2014). This contrasts with hay or grain mixtures, which for safe storage have moisture contents as low as 10 to 13%, that is dry matter contents of 87 to 90%.
Even when plants are physically mature, farmers might wait to harvest them until corn kernels have dried further so that the corn can be stored for longer periods of time. Corn Planting Time. Your corn plants will need regular watering, try not to let the soil dry out completely.
A number of Pennsylvania farmers lose fingers, hands, arms, and even feet in corn harvesting equipment (Photo 1) each year and some lose their lives. Determining the proper time to harvest corn for silage is critical because it influences the overall quality of the product that is preserved and stored in the silo.
If it shatters, the kernels are dry enough to put away as seed. Wait until the soil is warm to sow sweet corn. The grain makes up approximately 46 percent of the weight of the plant (depends on yield), while the cob and husk make up 8.2 and 7 percent, respectively.
Finally, consider a "worst case" scenario at the same yield and price levels How Farms Work where excess harvest losses are 15% and down corn is as high as 30 percent moisture, the cost of harvest losses would be $123.75 per acre but only $79.37 would be needed to dry the crop, so even at this high moisture the savings would be $44.38 per acre.
If the kernels don't reach the top of the ear, but all signs point to it being ripe and ready to eat, go ahead and harvest it anyway and cut off the top before serving. Try to harvest fields with marginal plant health, such as drought-stricken or questionable stalk quality, or refuge acres (non-Bt hybrids) with considerable insect infestation promptly to minimize losses.