Ask the Quality Silage Experts: Harvesting Immature Corn

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Q.     I might be forced to harvest immature corn. How will this affect the resulting silage? 

A.     In general, immature plants will have more soluble sugars since they did not have enough time during development to convert them to starch. In addition, producers can expect higher fiber and crude protein contents proportionally. Thus, the starch content and subsequent energy value of immature corn silage will be lower than corn silage that was harvested at the proper stage of maturity. 

Although fiber levels will be higher than normal, it may be more digestible, depending upon the maturity when harvested, and may feed quite well.

Some producers chose to harvest extremely immature corn last year to avoid an upcoming frost. In this scenario, the corn can be harvested before the reproductive phase of the plant and treated like a grass forage. Corn plants are mowed during the vegetative phase, wilted and ensiled, or baled, for the best quality.

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