NASHVILLE, Ill. — For a few days, at least, it’s a waiting game at Wilra Farms, as it is for many farmers across the Midwest facing corn and soybean harvest.
“We got all the stuff that we planted in April and the first half of May chopped that we’re going to. We’re waiting on some late May-planted stuff to chop a little bit more for corn silage,” said Nick Harre of Wilra Farms.
For the Harres, preparing feed for their dairy herd is a process that goes on throughout the summer, from haying, to planting corn and alfalfa, to cutting that corn at various stages to make silage.
As the corn hits black layer, the Harres prepare for another “lage” product — earlage.
To do that, they take the corn head off of their combine and put it on their chopper.
“It’s the combine head and you’re bringing in the whole ear — the husk, kernels and cob — and sending that through the chopper. It’s high moisture so you still have to ensile it. That’s our main corn source. We don’t feed dry corn to the milk cows, we switched to this earlage. So that will be our next thing to do,” Harre said.
As they wait for the corn to turn, the Harres continue on with their crop year. Haymaking is winding to a finish but not done yet, with the fifth cutting being put up as dry hay.
Harre said in his area, combines could start running in September.
“It all depends on what you are willing to dry it at. If we continue to not get rain, some guys might be shelling corn in a couple of weeks, but the end of September is when a lot of people would be going,” he said.
Planting also is taking place, with triticale, a forage crop, cover crops and winter wheat on the agenda.
“On the silage ground we knifed in the manure and on some of that, we’ll sow triticale. On the other ground, we sow cover crops so we have cover crops in the ground right now. On the manure ground, we sow spring oats and radish,” Harre said.
Winter wheat will follow corn and first crop soybeans.
“The bulk of the wheat will go in probably the first week of October,” he said.
In the barns, there is a new crop, too. While the Wilra herd calves through out the summer, Harre said calving picks up as summer winds down.
“We’re starting to have more newborns. We calve all summer long but ideally, you’d like them to calve when it’s a little cooler,” he said.