Chopping mature wheat? - The Combine Forum
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-07-2016, 08:11 PM Thread Starter
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Chopping mature wheat?

I finally am throwing in the towel. Had a couple fields of wheat swathed back in the third week of September. Had to swath it as it was flat and needed to dry out the ground and get some air through it to dry the wheat itself. Well we're over six weeks down and can still wring water out of the heads. It hasn't started to sprout except where it's pushed in the ground turning on headlands or flooded after swathing. If it wasn't for this last rain yesterday it might have went tomorrow. I'm chopping some second cut that I was planning on grazing but the snow flattened to a couple inches tall and is still to green due to no killing frost yet. It's wet enough the cows will make a mess of the field but the trucks should get around better.

Anyways I was thinking about chopping the wheat and mixing it with the alfalfa. I realize the wheat is low in water soluble carbohydrates but hopefully the alfalfa mixed in would be enough to ferment? I have some awnless and some rough awned in. Back in 03 we baled up some rough awned barley and took our chances with being short on feed and cows worth a nickel. Had a few cases of lump jaw and it pencilled out then but it wouldn't today. If it ferments I probably wouldn't be worried about lump jaw.

Never done this before and as much as I was counting on selling the wheat and really don't need the feed I am needing to do something with it and I have about given up on it getting dry enough to combine.

I just read my post and I come across as a Debbie downer. Here's a picture of my boss man from the other day. It's about the only thing that makes me smile lately.

Any thoughts?

Thanks

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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-07-2016, 08:17 PM
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Can't help you on the chopping for silage part, but really cute picture....you have to love the little ones it's what we live for right....

Just out of curiosity is there any neighbor who would dry the wheat for you? In these tough times you learn real fast who your truly great neighbors are. I know I have a few of these neighbors, and am thankful for them

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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-07-2016, 11:07 PM
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The first thought that came to mind was- if you're short of energy to get fermentation going, add some somehow? I know, super easy, no problem, right? ....

But seriously, it might help. I would maybe try hammer milled barley being liberally mixed into the pile with each load of chopped silage. Spraying or dribbling molasses on might work too, but can't see that being much easier. No real advice for how much to aim for, except that decent quality barley silage has 15-20% starch content, not sure how much credit to give the energy in the wheat that may or may not aid in fermenting....

I guess we should also ask, what kind of storage is this pile being made with? It will be a bit easier to mix stuff into a pile, could also maybe be done in a bagger but be a bit fussier ( set up an auger to feed in ground barley as the trucks unload?)

What would the sugar content of the alfalfa be to aid in fermentation at this point? I wouldn't be guessing very high with the the short days and the fact that it's been kinda ready for a while?

My gut would be to put the wheat in a pile by itself, if it doesn't work then at least the alfalfa is separate and has had a better chance to ensile instead of a great big pile of who knows what? Isolate the risk of the unknown to only one ingredient? I guess I am assuming you will be feeding it out as a tmr where you could blend it back together at feeding.....

Best of luck and hope something works out. Put some decent inoculant in as well to give yourself a fighting chance...

Oh yeah, what is the actual condition of the wheat? Dead ripe or some green in the leaves still? I'm guessing we are looking at wet straw as opposed to having any sugars left in the leaves, which will make this pretty challenging

Last edited by caroncrest; 11-07-2016 at 11:10 PM.
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-08-2016, 01:32 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coolio View Post
Can't help you on the chopping for silage part, but really cute picture....you have to love the little ones it's what we live for right....

Just out of curiosity is there any neighbor who would dry the wheat for you? In these tough times you learn real fast who your truly great neighbors are. I know I have a few of these neighbors, and am thankful for them
Thanks coolio.

I definitely agree about the little ones making it all worthwhile.

I actually have a drier. I have some on air that I really should have dried a month ago but between dealing with cows, trying to put up some underseeded oat silage, and a bin yard that's hard enough to get around in with a 4x4 pickup it hasn't happened yet. On Saturday my brother checked it and with several heads in his hand he quite literally squeezed water out. Usually my sieves plug up in better conditions and my combine wouldn't be able to get around the field anyway. Would end up packing every high dump load to the road if I can even get around with the chopper. Even the whopping 50 acres we took off in October I could flatten the kernels between my fingers. The side benefit is that it really stacked up good in the combine hopper. Maybe I'm writing it off too early? In this area there's probably 70% out so I'm in good company at least.

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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-08-2016, 11:16 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by caroncrest View Post
The first thought that came to mind was- if you're short of energy to get fermentation going, add some somehow? I know, super easy, no problem, right? ....

But seriously, it might help. I would maybe try hammer milled barley being liberally mixed into the pile with each load of chopped silage. Spraying or dribbling molasses on might work too, but can't see that being much easier. No real advice for how much to aim for, except that decent quality barley silage has 15-20% starch content, not sure how much credit to give the energy in the wheat that may or may not aid in fermenting....

I guess we should also ask, what kind of storage is this pile being made with? It will be a bit easier to mix stuff into a pile, could also maybe be done in a bagger but be a bit fussier ( set up an auger to feed in ground barley as the trucks unload?)

What would the sugar content of the alfalfa be to aid in fermentation at this point? I wouldn't be guessing very high with the the short days and the fact that it's been kinda ready for a while?

My gut would be to put the wheat in a pile by itself, if it doesn't work then at least the alfalfa is separate and has had a better chance to ensile instead of a great big pile of who knows what? Isolate the risk of the unknown to only one ingredient? I guess I am assuming you will be feeding it out as a tmr where you could blend it back together at feeding.....

Best of luck and hope something works out. Put some decent inoculant in as well to give yourself a fighting chance...

Oh yeah, what is the actual condition of the wheat? Dead ripe or some green in the leaves still? I'm guessing we are looking at wet straw as opposed to having any sugars left in the leaves, which will make this pretty challenging
Hi caroncrest.

I completely forgot about some of those details.

It will be going in a pile.

The straw is ripe. There was some second growth but only a couple % and that was 5-6 weeks ago.

The alfalfa is about 2' tall pre bloom and still lush green. The stems and leaves are still turgid despite being snowed on a few times. Under 5% is dessicated due to frost. I would guess it would have good sugar content.

That's a good idea on adding some energy with grain and keeping the wheat separate in case it becomes a pile of compost.

I know some years we baled tough straw. When it started to heat the cows would clean it up like candy. It smelled and looked like it was fermenting as opposed to just molding. That's kind of where I got the idea for this. I would have no problem doing this with the awnless but not the rough awned.

It's supposed to be sunny and around +10 for the next week. I'll need that regardless of what happens just to get around the field and feed yard.

I have been contemplating using inoculant for a couple years. We feed 90% of ours during cold weather so I feel aerobic stability isn't much of an issue. I do feel sometimes we have an issue with heating at the start of fermentation. What have you been using?

Thanks for all the ideas and thoughts.

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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-08-2016, 02:45 PM
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All the salesmen try to show us the latest and greatest multi species varieties that will increase bunk stability, inhibit secondary fermentation, make your cows grow wings, etc.... And I do believe them on the first two anyways, but we just use simple lactobacillus that helps ensure good initial fermentation. Our semen salesman that we have a long relationship with sells CHR Hansen so that's what we use, biomax 5 to be specific

Ground corn or oats would likely work too, whatever's cheap and easy to get. I would imagine as long as the ensiling bacteria have as easy of a time as possible accessing the energy would be the main idea
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-21-2016, 08:55 PM Thread Starter
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Well we chopped 40 loads before we got sick of pulling the trucks out and even the chopper. It got layered with alfalfa as I was surprised by the amount of grain in it. It was a 90 bu crop and only 3.5' tall. I'm also sick of chopping as we still have 650 ac to go. So we tried the lazy, I mean efficient way.

I'll let you know this spring how the science experiment turns out.

Thanks. (Sorry for sounding miserable. I'm really trying to be positive. )
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-21-2016, 09:05 PM
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It was a trial to make silage here this summer, I cannot imagine now. Good luck.
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-21-2016, 09:35 PM
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You could try bailing and wrapping if you have access. The tight bales eliminate most of the o2 and the cooler temps it doesn't really ferment but it shouldn't spoil either
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-21-2016, 09:56 PM Thread Starter
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It was a trial to make silage here this summer, I cannot imagine now. Good luck.
It was just as much fun here this summer. Now it's easier. Not too worried about getting rained out. Just if the frost comes out its worse than rain in the hills. The other day on a particularly hilly field we would have put chains on if there was more than 20 acres in it. Couldn't climb the frozen glassy hills and would want to run away going down them. Just have underseeded oats left that we've been ready to go on since September but the discbine would cut 6" ruts and get stuck on anything but the hill tops. Finally a couple inches of frost and we're good to go. Hopefully get done this week. Fingers crossed.

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