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Producers Have Corn Harvesting Options

Good corn crops, such as this one at NDSU's Carrington Research Extension Center, have producers looking for harvest options that are less costly or expand the harvest window. Good corn crops, such as this one at NDSU's Carrington Research Extension Center, have producers looking for harvest options that are less costly or expand the harvest window.
NDSU livestock experts offer advice on harvesting corn for animal feed.

The increase in corn acreage in North Dakota has many producers exploring harvest options that reduce cost or spread the harvest window.

For livestock producers, harvesting corn as high-moisture grain or earlage are good options because they eliminate grain drying costs and produce a product that makes excellent feed for ruminant animals, says Greg Lardy, head of North Dakota State University’s Animal Sciences Department.

High-moisture corn means the crop is harvested at 24 percent or greater moisture, stored and allowed to ferment in a silo or other storage structure, then used as feed for livestock. It is similar in energy and protein content to dry corn.

Earlage is ensiled corn grain, cobs and, depending on the harvest method, husks and a portion of the stalk. It can be harvested using the same types of equipment for producing corn silage, and it’s stored and fed much like corn silage.

Earlage also can refer to ensiled corn grain, cobs, husks, shanks and a portion of the stalk harvested with an all-crop header raised to a height at which the ear and stalk material above the shank is harvested

It is higher in energy than corn silage and has similar protein content, but it has lower energy than dry or high-moisture corn grain, says Vern Anderson, animal scientist at NDSU’s Carrington Research Extension Center. Earlage works well in a variety of cattle diets, including growing and finishing diets for beef cattle and feed for lactating dairy cows.

To learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of high-moisture corn and earlage, when and how to harvest the corn, and the proper processing and storage methods, check out two new NDSU publications, “Harvesting, Storing and Feeding High-moisture Corn,” available online at, and “Harvesting, Storing and Feeding Corn as Earlage,” online at

You also can obtain a printed version from your county Extension Service office or the NDSU Distribution Center. Contact the Distribution Center by e-mail at or by phone at (701) 231-7882.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Greg Lardy, (701) 231-7660,
Source:Vern Anderson, (701) 652-2951,
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391,
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