September 2020 Fall Steps


You are up to your eyeballs in corn silage harvest as a major portion of most dairy farms’ forage comes into storage in September and early October.  The dry weather has left a shorter crop in some areas, but late rains have produced a higher percentage of grain in the silage that pollenated.


First, and most critical is a caution with this year’s crop, especially sorghum, sorghum-Sudan, and Sudan grass.  The widespread dry conditions, coupled with shots of rain, are perfect for setting the sorghum species (and corn) up for high nitrates in the forage.  Farmers get all worried about prussic acid in their sorghum silage.  Properly harvested and fermented there is little prussic acid risk.  In my 44 years I have only heard of one instance (grazing) where this occurred.  Nearly every year someone, somewhere, kills a bunch of animals from excessive nitrates in the forage (not just sorghum species).  The good news is that fermentation will often drop the nitrate levels in half. This droughty year might be a good time to test before you feed.


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