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Silage Harvest Checklist

Silage harvest will soon be here and with it comes the challenge of harvesting your entire year’s crop in as little as a few days. This is a list of some harvest practices that can yield great dividends if applied at harvest time.

#1 Safety. It goes without saying, but every year someone in our line of work is lost due to an accident during harvest. Minimize & eliminate people on foot around equipment. Wear high visibility clothing. Never exceed a 3:1 Rise over Run on your piles to prevent rollovers. Always know where your kids are. And try and get some sleep when you can.

#2 Harvesting at the correct moisture of 62-68% will greatly increase corn silage quality. Test whole plants for moisture when the kernels are dented and you see a 1/3-2/3 milk line. Don’t forget to test individual fields.

#3 Particle Length is important to not only to achieving a good pack, but can also lead to higher milk production because of increased dry matter intake at the bunk. Particle size needs can vary from farm to farm, but recommendations are for the theoretical length of cut (TLC) to be set at 3/8” for non-processed silage, 3/4” for processed silage, and 1-1.25” if you are set up for Shredlage. Don’t just set your knives and walk away. Check your TLC and make changes if necessary.

#4 Kernel processing is critical to make silage that feeds well and cows are able to utilize. Ensure that all kernels are being broken and very few kernels are larger than ½ of a kernel. Check kernel processing throughout the harvest period and tighten the processors or adjust the length of cut as necessary.

#5 Packing Densities need to be focused on. A minimum packing density of 14 lbs/ft3 of dry matter should be the goal. But densities of 18+ lbs/ft3 can be achieved. If you would like your pile, bunker, bag, or silo tested before silage is chopped to know where you are on densities now, contact us and we will help you out.

#6 Cover your piles/bunkers immediately after packing has concluded. Do not skimp on plastic thickness and use an oxygen barrier to prevent spoilage. Overlap plastic at least 4 ft. Weight down the plastic across the entire surface. On silage bags, seal the end with dirt/sand/etc. and make sure to inspect sides for damage from cables. For upright silos, use a silo cap and don’t be afraid to blow water on top of the cap to weight the plastic down. Using a preservative throughout the entire pile or, at a minimum, on the last loads that go in a silo, bag, or bunker is a good way to ensure freshness when you open them.

If you have any questions or need help with troubleshooting or making a plan for silage harvest, please contact us.

Gilman Creamery: 320-387-2770

Jerry Schroden: 320-290-2846

Bryant Johnson: 320-221-4101