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Benton Evening News - Benton, IL
  • Southern Illinois counties eligible for relief from ’12 drought

  • The grim faces reflected the mood of those struggling to make a living from this year’s corn crop. During Wednesday night’s meeting in the University of Illinois Extension Office, Teresa Steckler, Barry Adkisson, Robert Bellm and Emerson Nafzifer answered questions and offered informat...
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  • The grim faces reflected the mood of those struggling to make a living from this year’s corn crop.
    During Wednesday night’s meeting in the University of Illinois Extension Office, Teresa Steckler, Barry Adkisson, Robert Bellm and Emerson Nafzifer answered questions and offered information and guidance on a variety of topics.
    The informational meeting came on the heels of U.S. Congressman Jerry Costello’s announcement of the declaration that counties have been declared primary drought disaster areas. The list includes Franklin, Alexander, Jackson, Pulaski, Union and Williamson counties.
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture made the declaration adding Perry and Randolph counties as contiguous drought disaster areas. All qualified farm operators in those areas are now eligible for low interest loans.
    The standing-room only crowd that attended the drought information meeting accepted applications for the low interest loans following USDA’s announcement of a streamlined disaster declaration process and a lowered interest loan, now at 2.25 percent.
    In addition, the payment reduction on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands qualified for emergency haying and grazing in 2012 is reduced from 25 to 10 percent. Costello recently urged the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office in Washington and the Illinois State Farm FSA office to give prompt attention to emergency haying and grazing requests.
    “This is good news for farmers in drought stricken areas,” he said. “Not only will loans help them through a tough season, but the efficiencies in the process should allow them to get help faster. I will continue to work with the Illinois congressional delegation, the USDA and our farmers as drought conditions persist.”
    Steckler encouraged farmers not to give up hope.
    “If there is green tissue on the corn stalks, some of it may have time to recover,” she said. “Wait several days for the nitrate to push back down into the plant. That way you get more bang for your buck.
    “If the corn has not pollinated yet, the quality of silage will be reduced,” Steckler said.
    She encouraged corn producers to test samples adding the corn would still have a fairly good feeding value for beef cattle.
    Steckler said ensiling is the preferred method of harvesting drought silage. “Proper ensiling will reduce the nitrate level by 40 to 60 percent,” she said. “When ensiling corn, it is important to wait until the plant dries to the correct moisture and is no longer green.”
    The method of storage also affects the moisture content, she said, from 30 percent dry matter for bunker or bag storage to 35 to 40 percent for the conventional silo. Steckler said oxygen-limiting structures increase the level of dry mater to between 40 and 50 percent.
    She also cautioned producers of the toxic dangers associated with drying corn particularly in enclosed areas. Steckler said keep the doors open to avoid being overcome by the toxic gasses and to not enter a storage area alone rather have someone with the producer to prevent injury or fatality.
    Page 2 of 2 - She suggested adding a bacterial additive to the silage due to the possibility of less than optimum fermentation conditions. “It is important to wait four weeks for fermentation to be complete prior to feeding the silage,” Steckler said.
    She said greenchopping is a less desirable option than silage but could be used in an emergency. “The risks can be minimized both by introducing the feed gradually so that the animal can adapt and by cutting the corn high, between 8 to 12 inches off of the ground, to avoid nitrates concentrated in the lower part of the stalk,” Steckler said.
    She said pasturing the corn is also an option in an emergency, cautioning producers to be concerned about nitrates in the lower part of the plant. “To minimize risk, the cattle should not be hungry when first introduced to the cornfield,” Steckler said. “Having hay available and not forcing the cattle to graze the lower part of the stalk could also reduce the risk. Limit the cattle to a small area with an electric fence to minimize waste.”
    She said it is important to crush the stalk to assist drying. Steckler said it may be beneficial to grind the hay to get the cows to consume the larger stalks.
    A partial list of laboratories that test corn silage for nitrate content was also distributed. The list includes the Illinois Animal Disease Laboratory in Centralia to test for nitrate and dry matter only.
    For more information, visit www.foragetesting.org.
    Beef cattle producers were reminded of Beef Field Day, being held Tuesday, July 24 in the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center in Simpson.
     

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