Some fields in the area sustained damage from high winds a couple weeks ago. Wind damage was evident in fields compromised with stalk rot as damage ranged anywhere from dropped ears, plants with no tassels, to having plants broken off towards the base of the stalk.
Regardless of the damage that occurred, there may still be ears left in the field after harvest. Leftover corn can be an opportunity for cattle producers if grazed carefully.
Prior to grazing, count the number of ears dropped at three different spots in the field. On 30-inch row spacing, count the number of dropped ears within 100 feet at each location. Divide the total number of ears by two. This should give the grower an estimate of how many bushels per acre are left in the field.
If there is more than 8-10 bushels per acre of corn on the ground, producers need to think about their grazing strategies to avoid acidosis, foundering, and reproductive issues. Cattle are selective grazers, especially if they have grazed corn stalks before. They tend to focus on any remaining kernels or ears in the field first, and then graze the husks and leaves. Cattle tend to avoid grazing stalks and roots if possible, but will eat them if necessary. Weaned calves or yearlings are still learning to seek out dropped ears, so they would be a great option to graze fields with downed corn so long as they are monitored closely. Cull cows or non-pregnant cows would be another great option as they would benefit from potential weight gain.
If producers are using cattle that have grazed corn before, it’s best to adjust them slowly as they will seek out dropped ears first. It is advisable to work these cattle up to 7-10 pounds per head of grain over a period of 7-10 days before turning them out on corn stalks. Some producers may use the cross-fencing method — strip grazing — to limit corn intake each day. Another good practice is to have Monensin supplement in the field to reduce foundering and bloating from overeating.
Nebraska Extension has more information on allocating corn residue and identifying potential problems from feeding too much downed corn at beef.unl.edu/down-corn-problem-or-opportunity-cattle-producers.
Fall weed control
While some farmers are done with harvest this year, others are still going strong.
One thing producers may need to consider is whether they need to make a fall burndown herbicide application to manage winter annual weeds. Winter annual weeds that emerge this time of year include marestail, henbit, field pennycress and downy brome.
With late harvest, cold temperatures and early snowfall this year, what will that do to managing these weeds? Herbicides tend to be the most effective when good coverage and uptake is achieved.
However, if plants are not actively growing — or their growth has been stalled due to temperature changes — herbicide uptake and weed control may be reduced. Herbicides may still be effective when applied between 40 degrees to 60 degrees, but it may take a little longer for the weeds to die.
Some winter annual weeds can tolerate cold temperatures up to 20 degrees, but some may experience tissue damage, which would reduce herbicide uptake. Products that contain glyphosate can be effective if resistance is not an issue. Tank mixing 2-4,D with products that have glyphosate or paraquat may help manage some of these winter annual weeds.
Weeds like marestail are interesting as they can either be a winter annual or a summer annual in Nebraska.
Residual herbicides are probably not necessary during fall applications, unless there is a high infestation of marestail in the field.
Not every field may need a fall burndown application, especially if Mother Nature is not cooperating and harvest is not complete.
Scout fields to determine if fields need a fall burndown application or if they can wait until spring.