Salvaging Immature and Frosted Crops for Silage

Late seeding dates combined with cool seasonal temperatures have delayed the maturity of many crops. Combined with the fact that many parts of Manitoba had some frost the mornings of September 14 and 15th, not a concern most years, but 2011’s late seeding leaves many of us wondering what to do. As always, the degree of severity is dependant on the temperature reached, and the duration. Some places had -2°C temperatures and for varying lengths of time. Although we may not have received the killing frost, it may occur soon. The best plan of action this fall will certainly be to have two plans ready, one if for a late frost date and one for an early/normal frost date. Fortunately, there are some options for the late crops, including soybeans, sunflowers, canola and corn. The following articles are a review of various sources on ensiling these alternative silages. References are provided for more detail.

Whether growers decide to ensile their crop will depend on a number of factors, but a few things to be aware of are 1) the economic value of the late, low yielding grain crop compared to silage, 2) the cost and availability of a custom silage harvester, and 3) the available markets for your silage. A key factor for many growers will depend on whether the crop is insured for grain under Crop Insurance. In such cases crop Insurance must be notified and consulted before silaging or working down a crop.

Oilseed crops like soybeans and sunflowers can be ensiled once you’ve decided that their value as a grain crop is below your economic threshold for a seed harvest.



Hay, haylage, or silage preservatives reduce storage losses from molds, bacteria, and fungi when the forage is not put up at ideal conditions. There are many types of additives with various effects, too many to go into detail here. They are used when ideal conditions for fermentation are not achievable.  For example, crops ensiled at too high or low of a moisture content, crops low in soluble carbohydrates (e.g. oilseed crops), or when silage storage devices are not sufficiently air-tight. The importance lies in recognizing that you may need to spend extra dollars on preservatives to ensure good quality silage.

Weed Control

As with all crops, it is important to note which pesticides were applied to all crops prior to their use as forage and check their labels in the Guide to Crop Protection. A number of grazing and feeding restrictions may apply to crops treated or sprayed with pesticides.

As with any other crop you are unfamiliar with, collect all the information you can before proceeding.