Extremely hot and dry weather this summer has most of the country suffering from moderate to exceptional drought conditions. It has been more than two decades since the last major drought and many people are wondering what to do with their crops. Vita Plus Forage and Technical Services team members John Goeser, Chris Wacek-Driver and Randall Greenfield led a webinar to help get a grip on this unique situation.

Lee karen
Managing Editor / Progressive Dairy
Progressive Dairymanlistened in and here are the key points we identified:

• Even though plants may look brown and dead, there is a chance they are still alive so don't count them out.

• The most critical point is pollination (occurring now in the upper Midwest). It is best to wait to see if pollination occurred before any decisions are made in terms of what to do (grain or silage) or when to harvest.

• Past the pollination stage, farmers in southern Illinois and Indiana have already cut and baled their poor looking fields.


• Moisture levels are key for harvest determination. Do not go by visual appearance alone; get the plants tested for moisture.

• Harvest is recommended at a slightly lower moisture (62 to 68 percent) this year.

• Be wary of huge moisture variation in each field.

• Monitor moisture levels closely as they can change quickly with hot, dry days.

• Keep your custom harvester informed so they are ready when your field is.

• High nitrates are a big concern – don't put animals out to pasture in a drought-weathered field without testing for nitrates first; test for nitrates before feeding out freshly chopped forages; keep human safety in mind with a greater risk of deadly silo gas.

• Inoculants are highly recommended this year but select the type with caution.

• Online worksheets are available to help with pricing.

• Testing for nutrient values is recommended to help in setting a fair price.

Click here to view the hour-long webinar or access additional information and documents at the Vita Plus Dairy Performance Blog. PD


Karen Lee
Progressive Dairyman magazine