This blog is unfortunately too late for many of those in central and southern plains but as the drought continues to grip the Plains states many are determining on whether to bale failed crops or leave them stand.
I can not argue that given the current forage situation that baling the failed crop will have a high value. I remember in 2011/2012 hearing about how baling failed crops resulted in much needed revenue. I also cannot argue with anyone who says they would prefer to leave the standing crop to maintain some leave of residue. Given our weather pattern since the fall many places are short on cover. Of course, a nice balance could be grazing the failed crop, given consideration is given to the nitrate levels.
Factsheet on Nitrate Toxicity
While the above conversation on revenue versus soil cover is likely the most important, I wanted to shed some insight on the nutrient value of the crop being discussed. A quick guide to nutrient removal can be found in the Nutrient Management Field Guide, link. While the numbers are estimated averages, they can provide a general starting point.
The nutrient values used in the Pete Sheet came from a collection of publications and surveys. You will note a significant difference in the corn silage values and sorghum-sudan values, this is primarily due to moisture content silage being high 55-65% and sorghum-sudan as a dry weight 0% moisture. I believe the two provide pretty good book ends for a high and low moisture content. But for this blog I added a Mid, which is just the halfway point between the two. So depending on the moisture content of what you are doing there is a good range. I pulled the nutrient fertilizer values from the Two Rivers Co-op page.
With the rising price of hay and fertilizer all aspects should be considered before pulling the trigger. The purpose of this blog was not to support one choice or the other, just to provide information. The table below shows the value of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur per ton of biomass of corn silage (Wet Weight Basis 55-65% moisture), sorghum-sudan (Dry Weight Basis 0% moisture) and a mid point that may be more along the lines of some of the corn being chopped.
I was asked about soybean hay. The literature was a little sparse of data so what is in the table comes from three sources (Listed as 1,2,3), the first source only had crude protein.
Also I found this Factsheet out of Missouri. Extremely important to consider if you applied herbicides to the failed crops. Considering-Your-Grazing-Haying-and-Silage-Options-for-Herbicide-treated-Corn-and-Soybean
More important links related to herbicides.
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to reach out to me.