If corn is going to be fed as green chop or grazed, test for nitrates before harvest to be sure the crop will be safe to feed. For corn harvested properly as silage which goes through a good fermentation, nitrate levels could decrease 30 to 50 percent and can be tested after fermentation and before feeding.
If you need to decide which corn fields to harvest as silage, testing before harvesting will allow one to determine which fields need to be harvested as silage (those higher in nitrates) and those with safer levels of nitrates for green chop or grazing.
Check herbicide withdrawals to make sure the crop can be fed to livestock.
Raise the cut high—nitrates are highest in the plant stem closer to the ground.
If at all possible, harvest as silage and let ferment for four-to-six weeks before feeding. Consider using a silage inoculant. Again, test for nitrates before feeding.
Immature corn will be more variable in nutrient content than normal corn silage. After harvest, test the forage for its nutrient content and develop and feed a balanced ration to your cattle.
Watch the moisture content of the crop closely. A small amount can be chopped to determine the current moisture content. Some corn is drying down quickly. Silage needs to be correct moisture to ferment properly and make good feed.
Can enough water be added at the silo blower to increase the moisture content of the silage? For each 1 percent increase in moisture content, about seven gallons of water is needed per ton.
A typical garden hose delivers about eight-to-10 gallons per minute. Thus, it is nearly impossible to deliver enough water to make a difference. For example, to increase the moisture content from 45 percent moisture to 60 percent moisture for a four-ton wagon load of silage, 420 gallons of water are needed.