Saturday, August 20, 2011

To Chop...or Not...

This is the time of year that every farmer has a big decision to make...

To chop corn silage...or not!

Our silos are nearly empty, and the corn is almost ready to chop for corn silage...but not quite.   A lot of our Amish neighbors have begun chopping.  You see their binders and wagons slowly making their way through the fields.  The silage is a little green, but the cows need to be fed!

This week we took some samples from our fields, ran them through the chopper, and tested the moisture level.  In our small silos (12 x 50) the silage should be between 65% -70%.  If the silage is too dry it doesn't have enough weight to pack well, and the air will spoil the silage.  Spoiled silage is trouble!  Silage that is too wet isn't good either, but better a little too wet than too dry.

This is one of the fields that we tested. It will probably be the first one that we will chop here at home...

An interesting perspective from inside the field...

The ears are large and the silk is dry and brown...

This is what we call the milk line.  Break the ear in half, and look at the white part of the kernel.  When the corn is ready for chopping, the milk line is about halfway down the kernel.  This ear shows the milk line only about 1/4 of the way down.  There's probably plenty of moisture there yet...

After the sample stalks were run through the chopper, they looked like this...

We took the samples from two fields for moisture testing.  They tested 69% and 70%...still a little bit wet, just like Jim suspected.  But it won't be long...typically the moisture drops about .5% per day, and with the rain we've been having, it probably won't be any faster than that.  So...we've lined up the chopper to come next week. 

Once those silos are filled, it will be a weight off our shoulders.  Trying to get it just right can be stressful...the weather...lining up the chopper...everything needs to fall together just right.

It seems like just a week or so ago that we were struggling to get the corn planted with all the rain we had in the spring...and here we are harvesting already!  Where did the summer go?!

Linking to Farmgirl Friday at Deborah Jean's Dandelion House


  1. Alica I love these photos especially the corn row.
    We are debating whether to cut our second crop and just feed it or not. The pastures are low and we cannot ship cattle just yet. Lots of decisions this time of year. B

  2. Wonderful photos ! Hope your crops are good for you ! Have a wonderful day !

  3. I learn so much from you. What an interesting post. Thanks!!

  4. Please send some rain! It looks like your corn is doing well. Those straight rows and tall corn is a nice sight. The corn around here is still a bit wobbly and such from our big July storm.

  5. Very interesting post. We are surounded by corn and soy fields and I didn't know any of that. I will have to start observing when I farmers harvest the corn. I really like the photo looking down the row of corn...and I love the the title of your blog.

  6. Our equivalent stress is getting our hay at the right moisture, no rain, and under cover. The hay is ready, but our supplier hasn't cut it yet. We still need 150 bales to get through the winter.

  7. Great pics! Were not ready yet, its gonna take a couple of weeks!

    SOOOOO.... did you know that Merle and Nancy came by today!!!??? My gosh that was fun! and they brought a CAMERA!!! haha

    and no, i hadn't taken a shower yet and yes i had a big pimple! haha

    They were very nice! Thanks for telling them about us! My hubby is watching his video right now!


  8. haha i right back here! Didn't know any other way either!

    And you can find alllll the info you want on and if you shoot me an email i am happy to talk cows or other stuff with ya!

    Again thanks so much for sending them over, it was quite a surprise!


  9. So interesting-I never knew that it could be cut. Lots of silage fields around my area.


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