Drought, along with hail, wind, heat and other factors, has left some corn yields extremely low across the state. However, damaged corn often can be fed to livestock for forage.
Silage, green chop hay and grazing all can work to help capture the corn crop's forage value for livestock, says Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension forage specialist.
However, harvest costs can be high, especially when yield per acre is low, so it's important to carefully evaluate the economics of any salvage operation, he said. Anderson and UNL Extension educator Tom Dorn recommend taking these preliminary considerations into account:
*If grain prices remain high, grain yield may not need to be very high to justify selecting grain harvest over forage harvest.
*Sometimes leaving the corn residue can result in increased yield next year and that increase may provide more value than that resulting from forage use. See NebGuide G1846, Harvesting Crop Residues, or from a local UNL Extension office, for information on evaluating your situation.
Check labels of all chemicals applied to be sure they are cleared for forage use and that the minimum harvest interval has been met.
Check with the USDA Farm Service Agency and your crop insurer to maintain compliance with farm programs and crop insurance requirements.
Nitrate concentrations can reach toxic levels in weather-damaged corn. The harvest method can affect the nitrate, a particular concern when it's being fed to livestock. Leaving a tall stubble (8 or more inches) will reduce nitrate risk but not eliminate it.