Managing drought stressed forages
Technical Application Specialist – Tyler Harris
Technical Application Specialist – Jodie Myers
Animal Nutrition Marketing Intern – Kristen Burkhardt
How many inches of rain did you have this summer? It’s easy to start a conversation talking about the weather—especially this year!
Drought conditions are affecting many fields across the United States. Short, curled up corn is the last sight any dairy producer wants to see. In some areas, this is the worst drought we have and are experiencing in a very long time.
As we quickly approach harvest, it’s important to be mindful of your forages. The western states, along with the Dakotas, Minnesota, and parts of Wisconsin received very few inches of rain this summer and the risk of drought stressed forages is high.
Tyler Harris, Cargill Technical Application Specialist, explains how you can have high forage quality even when experiencing a drought:
Avoid letting the crop get too dry before harvest – this might be the year you harvest earlier than normal. Work with your Dairy Focus Consultant (DFC) to decide when to harvest and be prepared to start sooner than later so you capture the right amount of moisture. Keep in mind that packing density may be difficult to achieve with dry forage.
Adjust your chop length – the higher up the stalk you chop, the better. The bottom part of the stalk is filled with nitrates that could further lead to nitrate toxicity or silo gas. It’s recommended during a drought year to cut your corn at least 12” high. This will help you avoid the largest concentration of nitrates within the corn stalk.
- Use inoculants or preservatives to optimize fermentation – this will help evade mold and yeast growth. Utilizing Cargill’s Promote Forage-Mate EBL product is a great resource for combatting drought stressed corn. Learn more about the product here.
After Harvest Management Tips:
After harvest, comes managing of forage quality and inventories.
- Working with your DFC on diet formulation to further manage forage fiber and carbohydrate levels will be critical over the next year. Consider using byproducts or alternative feedstuffs such as cotton seed, soy hulls, beet pulp, citrus pulp, or almond hulls to supplement more fiber into the diet.
- Pay close attention to your kernel processing score. Not sure how to do this? Ask your DFC! You want to make sure corn kernels are being processed and there are no whole kernels being fed within your forages.
Each year, we never know what curve balls the weather might throw at us. Our experienced team here at Cargill is ready to take on the challenge and help you feed your dreams. Lean on us this harvest season to ensure your operation will thrive!