Dry conditions force farmers to chop corn crop early

Farmers trying to salvage what they can amid drought
Dry conditions force farmers to chop corn crop early

Dry conditions are prompting local farmers to take actions usually slated closer to the fall.

Farmers are trying to salvage what they can, and they are chopping their corn crops early to make silage to feed livestock. 

In June, WISC-TV ventured to a farm in the Wisconsin Dells where corn was really starting to dry out. A few weeks later, that corn is being chopped far earlier than normal.

Farmers said but there’s very little to celebrate when it comes to this year’s corn silage.

“It’s not going to be good for us because there’s a lot less corn out there,” said Joe Manthe with DeForest-based D&J Manthe Forage Services. “But we’re still going to have to cover a lot of ground for people to get the feed they need.”

Manthe has never taken the chopper’s seat this early in the season. But dismal yields in drought conditions mean farmers are salvaging early for any final product.

“We never seen corn this dry this early, so people are kind of curious once we get going,” Manthe said. “I’m sure we’re going to get more calls. People want to go.”

“This isn’t far enough along right now,” said Chris Davis, looking at his corn on his land at Wisconsin Dells’ DaMartini Holsteins.

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For Davis, earless rows of dying corn crops means taking a cut in hopes to at least make feed for his Holsteins.

“It’s still food,” Davis said. “We’ll have to supplement some grain to make our diet for the cows. But it’s still utilizing, salvaging something. We will get something out of this. It’s not a lot, but we will get something.”

Davis said the hope is to avoid falling into the red all as searing conditions force farmers to shred some green.

“You know, you put all this money into the inputs, trying to hope for a good crop to feed your cattle for the rest of the year. Now you’re looking at it just drying up,” Davis said.

“Last year, we were chopping corn that was as tall as the cab on that chopper right there,” Manthe said. “And this year, I don’t think we’ll see any of that.”

A lot of the silage lacks the corn itself, so all that animal feed will still need extra grain supplements, which is just one of the many financial burdens calculated in this year’s agriculture budgets.  

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