Dear Aggie, someone told me the corn growing around the county is for corn silage. What is that?
Corn silage is a fermented feed that farmers feed to dairy and beef cattle. Each year, farmers in Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence Counties plant approximately 80,000 acres of corn to be harvested for silage.
An average acre of corn will produce 18 tons of corn silage. Corn grown for silage is typically planted in late April to early June in Northern New York. In September and early October, corn silage is made by harvesting and chopping the whole corn plant when the plant is still green and contains the right amount of moisture, then packing it into one of a few different types of storage structures.
These structures include upright silos, bunks, and bag silos. When it goes into the silo, the main goal is to eliminate as much oxygen as possible to allow proper fermentation. Upright silos are filled by putting the chopped corn into the top of the silo using a big blower. The bunk silos are filled by dumping the chopped corn on the floor of the bunk (usually a large concrete pad) and large tractors drive over the chopped corn to pack it tightly.
The bag silos are big plastic tubes that get filled by compressing the chopped corn into the bag. Harvesting corn for silage at the right moisture content is one of the most critical details that growers must pay close attention to in order to pack better in the storage structure, limit spoilage, and produce better quality feed for the animals. After about a month of fermentation, the silage is ready to be fed to the many dairy and beef animals in the area.