Hay there everyone! Welcome to Crop Talk with Dr. Megan Taylor your local friendly agronomist with Nebraska Extension serving Platte, Boone, and Nance counties.
It is has been another weird weather week around the state. On Wednesday last week, we experienced a 40-50-degree jump from day time highs to evening lows. There was heavy drizzle over the weekend that was leaked into this week. Wet conditions have left many growers around the area parked for a couple of days with the rainfall. As harvest continues, I would encourage all growers in the area to be sure to check equipment throughout harvest, remove as much residue as possible from equipment moving from field to field, and to prioritize fields with damage or late-season issues.
Removing residue between fields and cleaning equipment can reduce the spread of disease, insect and weed issues. Stalk rots seem to be the biggest late-season issue within our corn crop. Anthracnose, which leaves a black color on the bottom of the stalk, and Gibberella, which leave a pink color on the inside of the stalk, seem to be causing the most damage throughout our fields.
Stalk rots make the corn unstable and unsteady which can lead to dropped ears. These fields will need to be harvested with priority to assure yield potential and quality.
As we transition into hay production, many hay producers should be wrapping up the final round of cutting and baling for the season. Remember that cutting too late could cause hardiness issues and poor stand survival for next year. Alfalfa is sensitive to cold when it does not have adequate time to harden, which typically requires 60 days. As harvest progresses and more corn stalks are left in the field, this is a prime opportunity to allow cattle to graze on your acres.
Cattle will preferentially select the husk and leaf portions left in the field first. These are easily digestible and palatable for the cattle. The cob and the stalk will be consumed after. Consuming the husk and leaf portion allows cattle to intake about 52-55 percent TDN (TDN refers to digestible energy and total digestible nutrients) and 5-5.5 percent crude protein. In the Midwest, cattle can remain on corn stalks between 65 to 111 days depending on the weather.
Cattle are also able to graze stalks with 4-6 inches of snow covering them. Remember, we want to retain about 50 percent of our total residue for soil coverage so allowing grazing off of 30-50 percent residue is a great practice.
A reminder: the Syngenta settlement papers are due today and can be found at Crop Watch. Join me next week to learn more about forages, cover crops, and residue management. For more information regarding hay testing, quality analysis, or general forage questions give me a call at 402-563-4901 or follow me on twitter at @CropTalkMegan. Have a great weekend and Boiler Up! And of course GO BIG RED!