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Late Planting Focus on Corn Silage

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
May 21, 2014         
Source:  Dan Martens, Extension Educator
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties


Late Planting Focus on Corn Silage
By Dan Martens, University of Minnesota Extension

FOLEY, Minn. (05/21/2014) — When an inch or more of rain fell many parts of Stearns Benton and Morrison County on May 19, there were a lot of famers on heavier loam soils that had not planted any crop yet for 2014. Lots of winter snow, a cold spring and lots of rain in the last half of April and first half of May prevented farmers from making any significant progress with the spring planting work. A significant amount of planting has been done on the sandy soils in the area.

Farmers with dairy cows and beef cows might make corn silage a priority through June as they consider delayed planting because of cold wet weather. If necessary, it’s usually easier to buy grain than to buy corn silage or alternative forage feeds.

A significant trial was done at Rosemount and Pelican Rapids in 2002 and 2003 to evaluate a wide range of crop that might be considered when planting gets delayed. Plots were planted mid-May, mid-June, and the first couple days of July. Plots included 3 maturities of corn, forage sorghum, sudangrass, sorghum sudan grass, pearl millet, Japanese millet, foxtail millet, small grains, small grains with peas, alfalfa and vetch. 

The conclusion of the study says, “Based on the results in this study… and based on yield and milk production per acre, corn for silage and forage sorghum may be among the best emergency forage options, even at planting dates as late and early July.”

The report offers suggestions about where other crops might have a good fit. Some variety improvements have been made with many of these crops since 2003. Farmers should work closely with their nutrition and agronomy advisors in making decisions. Farmers should also make sure they understand how their choices play out with their crop insurance policies.

Where the weather cooperates, early maturing corn varieties can be planted early in June with some chance of getting grain with reasonable fall weather. Snaplage and earlage can work well for harvesting corn that is not mature in the fall for dry grain; and where cattle feed is needed.

You can find a copy of articles related to this study by doing a web site search for “Yield and Feeding Value Annual Crops Planted for Emergency Forage.” In Stearns, Benton and Morrison Counties, you’re welcome to call Extension Educator Dan Martens at 968-5077 if a local call to Foley or 1-800-964-4929 for a copy of this information.

Minnesota Extension has some useful information about late planting issues posted at it’s Minnesota Crops News website and at the Minnesota Extension Crop Production page under “Spring Resources 2014.” 

Your past experience and expertise is an important factor in how you evaluate options on your farm.


Daniel Martens
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems
(320) 968-5077
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