Consider Early Harvest To Provide Stalks And Relieve Pastures

Early cornstalks have more protein and energy than later stalks.

Published on: Sep 24, 2013

Heat in late August and early September basically shut down dryland corn, according to Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska-Lincoln forage specialist.

"With no more yield potential to gain and fairly dry grain, consider harvesting corn early to get some stalks and provide respite for your pastures," Anderson says.

Most pastures have suffered through two or more years of drought stress. "As we approach winter, these plants need time to recover and winterize," he says. "Even if they received plenty of rain recently or get more later this year and regrow well, continued grazing now will weaken plants as they go into winter. Next spring they will green up later, early growth will be slow, and they'll compete poorly with weeds."

Consider Early Harvest To Provide Stalks And Relieve Pastures
Consider Early Harvest To Provide Stalks And Relieve Pastures

To give your pastures a break, consider combining your dryland corn a little early and then moving the cows to stalks. Early stalks usually have more protein and energy than late stalks so they can put some condition on your cows while also relieving your pastures, according to Anderson.

"Don't worry about leaving some grass behind ungrazed. Dry, leftover grass actually balances well with new lush growth in the spring."

You need a little time to set up fences and water tanks on stalk fields anyway, so consider starting corn harvest early this year, he suggests. "It might lessen the hectic pace later when you want to spend time in the combine harvesting crops instead of setting up stalk grazing."

Source: University of Nebraska CropWatch