Nitrates in Drought Stressed Corn Silage
Almost all of Minnesota is in a severe to extreme drought. I know of some hard hit dairy farmers that have already chopped corn silage. I checked my corn Thursday afternoon and it is already dented. Typically it is early September before corn is denting. So, many other dairy and cattlemen will be chopping corn silage soon and you need to be concerned about nitrate poisoning!
I was talking with a dairy farmer at the Steele County Fair and she said they lost about half of their dairy cows in the drought of 1988 caused by nitrate poisoning. She added you can be assured their corn silage will be tested before feeding it this year. It also helps to let the corn silage ferment as that will help decrease the nitrate level. It could be dangerous to try and green chop corn silage and feed it every day not knowing the nitrate level.
It does seem a little strange but if we do get a rain the nitrate levels in the plant will actually increase even more for a few days after the rain! So, be sure to talk with your Vet or nutritionist about chopping and feeding drought stresses corn silage.