Monday, May 20, 2013

The corn sprouts

Now this may not seem like it's a momentous event, but this is the first crop that I'm raising on the new farm, and it's one of my favorite parts of farming -- watching nature at work.  Seeds are pretty amazing. 

This is a sweet corn seedling; there's about 43,000 of those planted over 1.7 acres; on another 55 acres there's 1.6 million "cow corn" sprouts.    Cow corn is designed to be harvested before the kernels are ripe; the entire corn plant and ears are chopped up and packed into air-tight piles.  You'll see them at most dairies in this area.   Huge piles with a tarp over the top of them, weighted down with old tires. 

Corn silage (which is what the chopped corn is called) is commonly fed to dairy cows as part of a TMR (Total Mixed Ration), along with hay, grain and other feed stocks. 

Last year this ground produced around 25 tons of corn silage per acre; if the yield is similar this year, that should be around 1,375 tons of silage, which sells locally for around $40/ton, giving a gross crop value of $55,000, or roughly $1,000/acre

From that gross amount you subtract the cost of the seed, tillage, fertilizer, labor and trucking.  Part of the value of leasing out the land is being able to watch them work the land; how much labor, which implements, timing.  It'll help me plan what I want to do next year. 

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