As if farmers don't already have enough terminology to deal with for the harvesting of corn, Kevin Shinners has a new one – toplage.
It's a relatively moist corn for which the harvesting technique is about midway between a high-cut (12 to 15 inches) on the stalks to make conventional corn silage and the making of snaplage, the University of Wisconsin Extension Service forage harvesting equipment specialist told attendees at the Sheboygan County Forage Council's 2016 annual meeting.
Snaplage consists mainly of corn kernels, ears, husks, and a few leaves but it does not ferment well, Shinners pointed out. The toplage feed, which includes more of the top part of the corn plant, has increases in both fiber and moisture, thereby enhancing the fermentation, he explained.
Research on what he calls 'toplage' shows that it registers at very close to the midpoint between whole plant corn silage and snaplage on starch content, neutral detergent fiber, and volatile fatty acids, Shinners reported. Stalklage can still be made from approximately the bottom half of the plant, he noted.
The harvesting equipment height and knife modifications needed to make toplage will cost about $650 per corn row, Shinners indicated. Because the toplage contains less corn stalk mass, there are improvements in kernel processing with no change in the equipment, he stated.
Shinners reported that both the John Deere and Claas companies have patents on the equipment renovations for making toplage.