Chopping Silage 9.15.14
There’s a chill in the air, and it’s staring to feel like fall. For farmers that means one thing, harvest. Hear more about our harvest in this week's radio segment below!
This week at our farm northwest of Platte, my dad is starting to chop silage. This year instead of harvesting corn for grain, he will be using the entire corn plant and cutting it for silage. You know how the beginning of the summer was so wet? Well in July our farm was dry. This meant that the corn wasn’t able to pollinate, and because of this our grain yields were estimated to be 20 percent of what we would normally harvest. So we decided the best way to use this crop would be to turn it into silage to feed to our cows during the winter. In 2013 South Dakota farmers harvested 280,000 acres of corn silage, and were 8th in the nation for silage production.
There’s nothing quite like the sweet smell of fresh cut silage. Silage cutting is a busy time around the farm, and each person in the family has a part to play. This is also one of the times we call on help from our neighbors to get a job done. Farming is community, and it’s nice to know that you have neighbors around to help when you need it!
Neighbors and family members cut the silage, haul it, and pack it for storage. One of the most important jobs though is making sure everyone stays fed! One of the girls in our house is always in charge of packing and delivering lunches to the crew, because harvest doesn’t stop just so we can eat!
It usually takes about a week and a half filled with long days to cut silage. The one thing harvest will stop for is the rain. Just like you can’t mow your lawn when it’s wet, you can’t harvest crops when they are wet either. Last week it rained, so this meant the harvest crew had to take time to let things dry out. This might be a pain, but the weather is something you can’t change so you have to make the best of it. For my dad, this meant he got the opportunity to go to a seminar to learn more about grazing our cattle.
That’s the thing about being a farmer, you never know what Mother Nature has in store so you have to be willing to roll with the punches. It seems like there’s always another challenge to face or something just doesn’t go quite your way. Despite these challenges, farmers are resilient, innovative and committed to producing our food.