It’s that time of year again –– corn harvesting season is here! There are many methods by which farmers harvest their corn. These various harvest methods result in various forms of corn. The forms of corn include high moisture shelled corn, snaplage, dried ear corn and corn silage.
High moisture shelled corn is exactly what it sounds like, it is corn that is harvested at high moistures of 30-35%. Farmers use a piece of equipment called a combine, which only takes the kernels of the corn and not the whole plant itself.
The corn head on the front of the combine cuts the stalk of corn close to the ground. The combine then takes in the stalk and threshes it in order to separate the stalk and kernels. The stalk and any other unwanted husks and cobs are chopped up and discarded out of the back of the combine. This discarded material can either be left out in the field or be reused as bedding for animals.
The kernels get sent up a conveyor and are put into a grain tank. Once the grain tank is full of corn kernels, the farmer will empty it into a wagon pulled by a tractor or a dump truck using an auger and unloading pipe that is located on the combine.
After the kernels are in the wagon or dump truck, they can then be transferred back to the farm where they can be processed (ground up or rolled) and stored.
In order for cows to digest corn it needs to be ground finely, which is why high moisture shelled corn is a great feeding option for cows. All corn, regardless of the form it is in, can be stored in a variety of ways such as ag-bags, feed bunks and silos.
Snaplage is a form of corn in which the whole ear, including the husk, is harvested using a combine head attached to a chopper. Snaplage is approximately 30-35% moisture and after snaplage is taken off the field, it is ground up then stored.
Another corn harvesting option is corn silage. When farmers want their corn for silage, they harvest the whole corn plant when it is 60-75% moisture. Corn silage is harvested by using a chopper, a large piece of machinery that does just that. This means that the corn plant is cut near the ground and the whole plant including the stalk, cob, kernels and husk are all chopped into fine pieces and later mixed with other ingredients to create the perfect meal for a cow. Corn silage is stored after harvest in order for it to ferment. The fermentation process helps to preserve the corn so it can be fed to cows. Corn is a great source of energy for cows and an important part of their diets.
With corn harvest in full swing, farmers are using roadways to get their crops from the field to the farm; therefore, it is especially important to be cautious on the roads. I know we all lead busy lives, and with that in mind, so do farmers. Their job is to harvest their crops in order to feed their animals, and humans as well. They don’t want to cause you problems or slow you down while you travel, but please keep in mind that they are traveling at a safe speed for the large equipment they are operating.
Be aware that it may be hard for the equipment operator to see you, so please leave plenty of space between you and them, only pass when it is safe to do so and slow down when you approach farm equipment on the roads. Be sure to keep an eye out for flashing lights, slow moving vehicle signs and turning signals on farm equipment.
Farmers are just trying to get their crops in as safely as possible and trust me, they don’t want to be traveling on the roads with equipment any more than you want them to. If you see a farmer traveling on the road, give them a wave, tip your hat or even just smile. A little gesture can go a long way.