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TheBeefSite Newsletter - 03 September 2014

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Wednesday 3rd September 2014.
Michael Priestley - Editor

Michael Priestley

MSD Animal Health

Novus International

Buying Corn Off the Growers Before Harvest

Buying fields of corn could be an option given a drop in forage quality this year, MidWest cattle producers are being advised.

A University of Minnesota forage expert has said that, due to the downward pressure in corn markets, cattlemen may be able to purchase fields of late-planted corn.

This may suit some growers looking to reduce risks on late-planted field, of which there are some this year, explained forage expert Jim Paulson.

He added: “In some cases, farms may have planted beyond the crop insurance planting date requirements, leaving these fields exposed to a huge risk.”

However, a challenge is met in pricing the crop.

This, Mr Paulson added, must be answered before harvesting starts.

“One way is to price the forage based on a post-harvest forage test and the known quantity of forage harvested.

“It can be done in a number of ways to closely estimate the amount of silage. Silos and bags are easier to calculate than a pile, but each can be done.”

He recommends starting at a 65 per cent moisture level for estimating wet tons of silage and adjust from there.

Secondly, think about the cost of harvesting the corn, which typically start around $100 per acre.

There are differences between costs in harvesting silage or grain, said Mr Paulson, adding: “The value of the corn grain per ton of silage is approximately 7 to 8 bushels of corn per wet ton of silage.

"Later planting dates will lower the previous estimate. The value of the fodder usually is based on some alternate forage, such as straw or stover.

“Making this comparison is difficult because the corn plant is much more digestible if harvested at 65 percent moisture than is dry straw or stover.”

He urged producers in the upper MidWest to consider Sweet Corn Silage, which compares favourably with regular corn silage, although does have lower starch.

Care should be taken when estimating neutral detergent fibre (NDF), he added.

“A potential exists for overestimating energy content of forage if the NDF of the forage digests more slowly than we estimate.”

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