Welcome our 2019 Agronomy Interns

This year we have two interns joining our agronomy staff, Michelle Erickson and Bryce Hering.

Michelle comes to us from Greenville, WI. She is currently a student at Fox Valley Technical College where she is pursing a major in Agribusiness Science and Animal Science. She wanted to work for CHS Larsen Co-op to gain more knowledge on the agronomy side of agriculture. She is most excited about being able to be outside and learn more about crops and soils, as well as talking with farmers. In her free time, she enjoys shooting trap, riding four-wheelers, hanging with friends, fishing, driving tractor and going on road trips. Something interesting about Michelle is that she lives on a dairy farm.

Bryce is from the Saxeville area. He is attending UW-River Falls, where he is majoring in Crops and Soil Science. He came to CHS Larsen Co-op because he heard it was a great place to work and it was close to home for him this summer. He’s very excited to meet new people and learn more about crops and pests in the fields. Outside of school and work his hobbies are hunting, fishing, spending time with friends and camping up north. Something interesting about Bryce is that he showed pigs for 10 years and he has never broken a bone.

We are very excited to have Bryce and Michelle work with us this summer! They will be sharing updates throughout the summer on what they are learning in their internships.

Corn Insect Update 5/9/19

Originally Posted in the Wisconsin Pest Bulletin

Corn
Volume 64 Number 2 Date 05/09/2019

BLACK CUTWORM – A weekend storm front on May 5-6 brought additional flights of black cutworms northward into the state. DATCP’s 44 monitoring locations collected 267 moths, with 10 sites registering significant counts of nine or more moths in two nights. The highest trap count for the week was 20 moths near Hampden in Columbia County. Pheromone traps have captured a cumulative total of 758 specimens since the first moth appeared on April 4.

The black cutworm counts recorded this spring are considered moderate in comparison to captures in high-moth years,though delayed spring field preparation and early-season weed growth have provided highly favorable egg laying habitat for female moths arriving over the past 4-5 weeks.Based on the first major BCW migration event on April 12 and the expected slow accumulation of degree days over the next two weeks,the earliest peak corn cutting window will not open until May 27 near Beloit, May 29 near Madison, and June 4 near Hancock. However, the second wave of significant captures recorded in the past week signals the cutting period could be protracted, with a second peak damage period starting around June 6.

The late start to 2019 planting season and the consistent moth migrations documented since mid-April indicate a high risk of BCW damage to vegetative corn this spring.

*Mustang Maxx Preventative or Rescue at 2.5 oz – 3 oz /acre. Hero Preventative or Rescue at 4 oz/acre.*



SEEDCORN MAGGOT -Emergence of first-generation flies from overwintered pupae has peaked.Peak fly emergence theoretically occurred last week across southern Wisconsin with the accumulation of 360 degree days (sine base 39°F), and is forecast for the Appleton, Hancock and Tomah areas of central Wisconsin in the week ahead Heavy egg laying is likely during this time. Cool, moist soil conditions prevalent statewide are less than optimal for rapid seed germination and highly favorable for seedcorn maggot (SCM) infestation, increasing the risk of maggot damage to susceptible crops such as corn and soybean seeds and seedlings. Planting as close as possible to the ‘fly-free’ period between the first and second generations can reduce risk and is the primary cultural control for this spring soil insect pest.If SCM infestation is suspected, dig up apparent seed skips in the row and examine seed for evidence of damage. Cutworms, wireworms, and white grubs are other insects that can contribute to stand loss.

* Make sure your growers have either Capture LFR or Ethos XB in the Starter Fertilizer tank to help against Seed corn Maggot!*

Grain Update – May 15, 2019

Kimmes spring corn planting

5/15/19

Planting Delays Are Starting To Get Serious

The big news of late is the inability to get our corn crop planted on time, and the real risk of corn acres either not getting planted or they get switched to beans instead.  On Monday’s crop progress report, the US has only planted 30% of its corn crop and last year we were are 59% complete.  On beans, only 9% were planted as compared to 32% last year.  Obviously, the wet weather has prevented the farmer from getting in the field and has pushed all planting significantly back from normal completion rates.  However, as I speak now, the farmer is aggressively planting corn in many areas of the Corn Belt right now, running full bore and around the clock.  Conditions are not perfect, but the calendar is forcing the issue.  Rains are expected to come towards the end of the week, and they are getting it done, one way or the other.

After weeks of relentless fund selling of grain futures at Chicago, this late planting issue finally came to a head on Tuesday as the corn market rallied 15 cents higher and beans over 30 cents higher.  The funds had a record short position in corn of over 325,000 contracts short and beans over 150,000 contracts short, which had been accumulated in the last 30 days.  These funds had been significantly pressing grain futures lower through last week, being relentless on pressing futures lower consistently over the last 3 weeks.  Beans last $1.20 and corn over 25 cents.  However, this mentality started to change on Monday, and the market screamed higher on Tuesday and it is still higher today.  Its all about the lack of planting process on both corn and beans, and now the market is putting more risk premium in the market for delayed planting and yield lag.  The funds were extremely short and this news has caused them to cover their short position buy aggressively buying futures.  This buying has propped up the market in a big way and is giving all of you the opportunity to make “catch up” sales. 

Time will tell whether the farmer will be able to get all of his corn acres planted.  However, there is no other time in history where the farmer has had less capacity to plant massive acreage once the conditions are right.  Today’s farmer has aggressively invested in new planting capacity to be able to plant his crop in very short order.  Yes, we are behind.  But the real question is whether the farmer can catch up on planting.  He definitely has the tools.  He just needs Mother Nature to cooperate.

Even though we are seeing a nice rally, the grain fundamentals still have not changed that much, especially for beans.  Please view this rally as an opportunity to catch up on forward new crop sales that were missed earlier.  The bullish case for corn has more standing power than beans.  Still, this is not the time to get bullish on either corn or beans, but time to think about salvaging a very difficult marketing year.  This is especially true for beans.  This weather scenario will likely add more bean acres at the expense of corn.  The result will be an even bigger amount of beans carried out next year, most likely between 1.0 and 1.3 B bu, which is just huge.  This is the 3rd day of our rally, and you can tell it is starting to lose some of its steam.  Now is the perfect time to place target orders just under resistance levels and get more new beans sold for harvest or next summer if you have bin space. 

Targets Produce Success and Protection For Your Farm

The weather markets are pushing the market around like a yoyo and producing unprecedented volatility.  However, volatility can be your friend if you have a solid marketing plan and know how much and at what price you feel comfortable selling when the right opportunities present themselves.  If you are not working with one of our grain originators today, please give us a call.  We will gladly sit down with you to create a plan and help you protect your farm.  For a list of our grain originators and the one closest to you, please click here These types of volatile markets are a grain marketer’s dream.  The volatility present selling opportunities that are very short lived.  For the disciplined marketer, who knows exactly what commodity he needs to sell and at what level, this is a perfect scenario.  You simply place target orders in our system and at 3 am in the morning next Thursday while China makes an announcement when we are all sleeping, the markets ramps up, hits your target, locks in your contract price, all automatically while you are in bed.  How fantastic is that!  I encourage all of you to start using our online target system.  Its free, easy, and will protect your farm.  Please click here for more information.

What Are The Charts Telling Us?

Here are the support and resistance levels for cash and new crop grains.  These are all futures levels as traded at Chicago:

Cash Corn – July 19 Corn Futures – Support at $3.43, Resistance at $3.80, Place Targets at $3.76

New Corn – Dec 19 Corn Futures – Support at $3.63, Resistance at $3.98, Place Targets at $3.95

Cash Beans – July 19 Bean Futures – Support at $7.91, Resistance at $8.58, Place Targets at $8.48

New Beans – Nov 19 Bean Futures – Support at $8.15, Resistance at $8.80, Place Targets at $8.70

New Wheat – July 19 Wheat Futures – Support at $4.19, Resistance at $4.60, Place Targets at $4.55

To see where grain futures are currently trading, please click here.

Have You Sold Enough New Beans Yet?  Make Values Even Better With Cash Plus Contracts

I can build a solid case why beans will move lower in the coming weeks as more acres get planted and less corn.  In addition, the bean planting window is not nearly as tight as the optimum corn planting window.  If you still have new beans to sell, please check out our Cash Plus Contracts.  We can add a premium to your new crop bean sales price in exchange for an offer to sell more new beans if November Bean futures close above a certain level on Oct 23rd.  (These premiums are for contracts in 5,000 bushel increments only.)  These contracts will allow you to sell new beans today with a 36 cent premium added to the new crop cash price in exchange for an offer to sell the same quantity of new crop bean futures at $8.60 if on Oct 23rd, the November bean futures close at or above this level.  If futures close below this level, you get to keep this entire premium, and you don’t have any other obligation.  So it is a win-win for you.  You get to keep the 36 cent premium paid to you on top of the current new crop bean price, and if on Oct 23rd, depending on what November bean futures trade at the close on this date, you might be able to keep this entire premium free and clear.  The worst case is that you would have the same bushel commitment in another new crop sale where November futures were locked in at the $8.60 level.  Taking off the basis of 92 cents under the November futures for delivery into Readfield, which is our current posted new crop bean basis, you would have a new crop bean contract at 8.60 – 92 (basis) + 36 cent premium = $8.04  The worst case is that you would have another set of new beans sold at $8.60 November futures for Oct / Nov ’19 delivery into Readfield or Center Valley. 

As always, if I can help you with anything, please call me on my cell at 419-279-3809 or send me an email at marcus.cordonnier@chsinc.com.

Marcus Cordonnier

Let’s Talk Tariffs

Unless you live under a rock or North of Hwy 64, like me, I am sure that you have seen an article or heard a news report about the US/China trade war.  Talk of new tariff’s on Chinese goods have been in and out of headlines since the initial tariff taxes of 10% on most goods were imposed last fall.  But last week this trade war ramped up to the next level when trade talks stalled, and an additional 15% tariff tax was added to goods that were already carrying the initial 10% from 6 months ago.

Although there has been a great deal of “tariff talk” lately, some may not exactly understand what a tariff really is and how it will affect our industry.  Everyone has their own opinion, mostly depending on their political affiliation.  So, rather than quoting a bunch of headlines from CNN to Fox news, let’s just do a brief dissection of the meat of this trade war so you can form your own opinion!

Let’s start with….

WHAT IS A TARIFF?  A tariff is a special fee that is charged to the corporation that imports certain products from other countries.  Like Walmart for instance, when they order a whole bunch of Haier TV’s or that nasty frozen tilapia fish they sell; the products come into one of our 328 US ports of entry for inspection.  Upon inspection Walmart will get charged a tariff or “duty” fee for the release of the goods.  US and custom border agents collect the fees that go directly to the US Treasury.  By the way; don’t eat that Chinese tilapia, it is like poison; but that is a story for another day…moving on.

ARE TARIFF FEES CHARGED ON ALL IMPORTS?  96% of all imported products are charged a tariff fee, with the average rate at 2%.  Currently, China is the highest rate at 25%; bumping the Bahamas out of the top spot, with a current fee of 18.56%.  Coincidently, the current duty fee to China are only about ½ the size of the 59% fees that were implemented back in the 30’s during the great depression. 

WHY CHARGE TARIFF’S?  Tariffs are charged for a couple reasons.  The major reasons are to generate income for the government and to protect the US manufacturing industry.  For instance, if there were no tariff fees on BMW, a new three series would cost about the same price as a Ford Focus…and that is just not right!  This is not something that Ford wants or can financially handle.  So, basically it puts the US on a more even playing field with other countries.  In theory, it keeps US manufacturer successful, which keeps the US workforce gainfully employed.

HOW WILL THE TARIFF’S AFFECT US?  Everyone has a different view on this, because a few things can happen.  Product prices could go up-> retail and manufacturing facilities may look at temporary lay-offs to cut expenses…but on the flip side-> American made product sales could soar -> US manufacturing facilities may have to increase their workforce due to new orders?

On the energy side, China was one of our biggest exporters of propane. Since the start of these tariffs, way back in September 2018, China has completely slowed their orders and are now at a slow trickle.  This has caused inventories to rise throughout the winter and I am sure we will see some big numbers this summer as usage throughout the Midwest declines.  Typically, high inventories lead to lower pricing; unless the transportation services decide to take a bigger piece of the pie and raise their fees (supply and demand). I am not sure if these savings will ultimately make it to the consumer or not?

This may be an interesting summer.  With this current trade situation and the expiration of OPEC’s production cuts, we may see some 1st in the energy sector.  Buckle up folks, I think we are in for a fun ride!

Written by: Kim Leisner, Energy Sales Manager

Check for underground utilities before digging

Whether your spring to-do list includes building a fence or planting trees – breaking ground should always be done with caution. April is National Safe Digging Month so remember, your best line of defense before digging is to call 811, a free service that marks underground utilities and pipelines. Many of these are less than a foot underground. 

The process is simple: Call 811 or visit clickbeforeyoudig.com three days before a digging project, wait for underground utilities to be marked and don’t dig within two feet of those markers.  

digging

It’s best to call 811 any time you break ground, even if you think you know where a utility line is located. “In the U.S., an underground utility is hit every nine minutes, causing dangerous consequences,” says Tina Beach, public awareness specialist for CHS. “It takes a lifetime to build a farm, and it takes just one free call to keep it safe.”  

3 equipment tips to get the most out of a short planting season

Planting Equipment Tips

By Mimi Falkman, senior marketing specialist, CHS Lubricants

Planting season is always a busy time of year on the farm, but it can be especially tight when winter overstays its welcome. A short spring means there’s even less time than usual for farmers to complete some of the most important work of the year.

During a condensed planting season, equipment is under added stress because it needs to work overtime to meet demands. To keep machines protected and operating at peak performance during a shorter spring, farmers can set themselves up for success by preparing their equipment and fluids while the fields are still wet.

(more…)

Grain Update – April 11, 2019

4/11/19

USDA Shows More Corn, But Market Holds Steady

The USDA released its April crop report on Tuesday and showed more corn stocks than originally thought.  However, the market held firm after the release.  Let’s look at the details.

In the corn market, the USDA reduced feed usage by 75 M bu down to 5.3 B bu.  They also reduced the amount of corn used by the ethanol industry by 50 M bu down to 5.5 B bu.  This industry continues to struggle with a lack of margins, and the industry is not running at capacity at this time.  This helps to explain why corn usage has backed off.  Finally, corn exports were reduced by 75 M bu down to 2.3 B bu as well.  The US market is struggling to find export demand.  Last year, the PNW was very busy shipping corn to China.  This year, Brazil and Argentina have huge corn crops on the horizon and their price is substantially cheaper than corn from the US.  In fact, they have the cheapest corn in the world now, and the Chinese are buying their corn and not ours.  On top of all of this, the Trump administration and China continue to work together to try and get a new agreement in place to end the tariff war between the two countries.  This is allowed China to not buy corn like in past years as well.  Its been a very long time since we have seen the USDA reduce all three of these categories on the same report, and it added to the heaviness of the report.  When the dust settled, there were 200 M bu of corn added to ending stocks, increasing this final number to 2.035 B bu.

As I have said many times, having a corn carryout starting with a “2” puts the market in comfort mode.  Supplies are plentiful, and the market will likely see no need to rally.  However, we have a mounting problem just around the corner.  This relaxed sentiment makes the assumption that we have no problems planting a 92.8 M acre corn crop.  Will the US be able to get all of this corn planted at the right time as major areas of the western and northern Corn Belt sit now with a major snow or rain event on top of it right now?  Even with no snow or rain today, vast areas still are dealing with wetter and colder soil conditions which will likely press the corn planting date well into May.  Now, with more snow and rain, it just keeps pushing the likely corn planting date farther and farther into the back edge of the appropriate planting window for corn.  If any other weather systems develop and drop more precipitation in these areas, I can easily see many corn acres get switched to beans.  If this happens, all of a sudden, we don’t have such a plentiful corn supply.  In the coming days, I see the corn market becoming much more sensitive to the weather situation.  On top of this, the funds are extremely short corn futures, and all we need is a reason for them to cover (buy) their short position back, and we could have an explosive corn market on our hands until the we get our corn completely planted.  Thus, I am not bearish corn.  There is a real potential for the corn market to bounce from these levels and rally until at least we get 50% of the crop planted.  It is a real risk, and the market will eventually recognize it, at some point.

The bean market is totally different.  But first, lets look at the USDA report.  Unlike corn, the USDA made very little changes to the Supply and Demand table during April.  They reduced imports by 3 M bu and increased seed usage by 2 M bu.  But the most obvious change that is needed, they failed to adjust, again.  They left bean exports at 1.875 B bu and continue to leave bean exports alone.  If the USDA was honest with us, they would start cutting these back instead of waiting until the end of the crop year to slash them.  My best guess is that exports will be lowered (eventually by 200 M bu or so.  When this happens, bean carryout will grow from its current 895 M bu to at least 1.1 to 1.2 B bu.  Folks, this is a lot of beans.  Many producers went ahead and used the $1.65 from the USDA and used this payment to supplement their cash flow needs and left their beans in the bin or in storage, and still unpriced.  I can build a case where beans move lower and lower as more and more corn acres get planted with beans, and the farmer won’t move their beans until they are forced to do so just prior to fall harvest.  Thus, we could have a very heavy farmer deliveries during Aug / September and have 2 harvests back to back.  This will add increased pressure to futures and basis as more beans are rammed in the pipeline.

Most farmers are waiting for a China deal to be finalized before selling more of their beans.  My best guess is that Trump will demand a perfect agreement with China, and this will take another 6-8 weeks to get accomplished.  By then, the opportunity for China to buy any more old beans will be completely over.  Brazil and Argentina have the cheapest beans in the world right now, and their bigger than average yields will continue to press bean prices lower and lower.  On top of this, if the US farmer cannot plant his corn crop due to wet / cold weather, and instead plants beans to be able to survive, the beans carryout will continue to expand and beans are /  will be extremely over priced compared to today’s values.  Thus, I am bearish beans in a big way.  The market is not looking at these fundamentals yet, but as we inch closer and close to planting, and experience continual delays in plating corn, the market will be forced to recognize it in a big way.  The real risk here is a substantially lower bean futures market and a substantially wider new crop basis levels that will be considerably wider than last years wide basis level.  If I were you, I would take action today to protect your farm.  Please click here to see which grain originator on our staff can help you create a unique marketing plan for your farm, and help you place target orders in our online system.  I offer further explanation below.

What Are The Charts Telling Us?

Here are the support and resistance levels for cash and new crop grains.  These are all futures levels as traded at Chicago:

Cash Corn – May 19 Corn Futures – Support at $3.55, Resistance at $3.66, Place Targets at $3.65

New Corn – Dec 19 Corn Futures – Support at $3.84, Resistance at $3.96, Place Targets at $3.95

Cash Beans – May 19 Bean Futures – Support at $8.83, Resistance at $9.12, Place Targets at $9.02

New Beans – Nov 19 Bean Futures – Support at $9.18, Resistance at $9.39, Place Targets at $9.34

New Wheat – July 19 Wheat Futures – Support at $4.35, Resistance at $4.82, Place Targets at $7.78

To see where grain futures are currently trading, please click here.

Have You Sold Enough New Beans Yet?  Make Values Even Better With Cash Plus Contracts

I can build a solid case why beans will move lower in the coming weeks as more acres get planted and less corn.  In addition, the bean planting window is not nearly as tight as the optimum corn planting window.  If you still have new beans to sell, please check out our Cash Plus Contracts.  We can add a premium to your new crop bean sales price in exchange for an offer to sell more new beans if November Bean futures close above a certain level on Oct 23rd.  These contracts will allow you to sell new beans today with an 18 cent premium added to the new crop cash price in exchange for an offer to sell the same quantity of new crop bean futures around $9.60 if on Oct 23rd, the November bean futures close at or above this level.  If futures close below this level, you get to keep this entire premium, and you don’t have any other obligation.  So it is a win-win for you.  You get to keep the 18-cent premium paid to you on top of the current new crop bean price, and if on Oct 23rd, depending on what November bean futures trade at the close on this date, you might be able to keep this entire premium free and clear.  The worst case is that you would have the same bushel commitment in another new crop sale where November futures were locked in at the $9.60 level.  Taking off the basis of 92 cents under the November futures for delivery into Readfield, which is our current posted new crop bean basis, you would have a new crop bean contract at 9.60 – 92 +18 cent premium = $8.86  The worst case is that you would have another set of new beans sold at $8.68 for Oct / Nov ’19 delivery into Readfield or Center Valley.  This is a good price considering our posted new crop price is at $8.38 or so today.  Please check this out.  We have been writing many of these contracts as of late, and they work really well.  Please click here to see our current cash grain bids.

Targets Produce Success and Protection For Your Farm

Before long, weather markets will push the market around like a yoyo and produce unprecedented volatility.  However, volatility can be your friend if you have a solid marketing plan and know how much and at what price you feel comfortable selling when the right opportunities present themselves.  If you are not working with one of our grain originators today, please give us a call.  We will gladly sit down with you to create a plan and help you protect your farm.  For a list of our grain originators and the one closest to you, please click here.  The volatility present selling opportunities that are very short lived.  For the disciplined marketer, who knows exactly what commodity he needs to sell and at what level, this is a perfect scenario.  You simply place target orders in our system and at 3 am in the morning next Thursday while China makes an announcement when we are all sleeping, the markets ramps up, hits your target, locks in your contract price, all automatically while you are in bed.  How fantastic is that!  I encourage all of you to start using our online target system.  Its free, easy, and will protect your farm.  Please click here for more information.

LAST CALL For New Crop Average Price Contracts – Sign Up Today

We are now enrolling bushels into our new crop Average Price Contract which is for new crop grain that will be delivered during this fall.  This is a cash contract and will use a 10 week period to average the price.  The timing of the new crop contract will be May 1st through July 3rd.  We will simply average the closing prices each Wednesday during these periods, pricing 1/10 of your contracted bushels each week during the period.  At the end of the period, we will simply average the prices together.  There is no minimum quantity and the best part of these contracts are that they are FREE.  There are no fees associated with these averaging contracts. 

The dates associated with the new crop pricing period of May 1st  to July 3rd  is normally a very good time to sell new crop grain because the market is dealing with planting problems and then dealing with dry weather problems somewhere in the Corn Belt.  When problems surface, the market puts more risk premium in the futures, and you will be participating in the market to capture these premiums.  If there are no problems, the market usually drifts lower after the July 4th holiday, making the timing an excellent part of this new crop average contract.    These contracts are simple, easy to understand, and they work.  Every farmer should put a decent amount of grain into these contracts to help protect your farm.  For more information on these exciting new contracts, please click here.

As always, if I can help you with anything, please call me at the grain office on my cell at 419-279-3809, or send me an email at marcus.cordonnier@chsinc.com.

Marcus Cordonnier

2019 First Quarter Energy Update

We rang in the new year with the lowest crude oil values since August of 2017.  To our surprise, those values remain the lowest seen this quarter.  Slow and steady, just like a turtle crude oil managed to sneak in a 23% gain in values over the past three months.  Diesel and Gasoline followed crude oils pattern, just like the good soldiers that they are.  Both increasing roughly 25%, gasoline gaining a bit more than diesel.

So, why the drastic change and such volatility in the past three months? 

To figure this out we need to examine the factors that cause market movement.  So, let’s look a little closer at supply/demand and the economy.

Over the past 18 months OPEC has managed to make headlines with their continued threats of production cuts.  There has been quite a bit of skepticism regarding the actual follow through of these cuts.  In the past, greed has taken over and most of the nations that did agree to cut production have failed miserably.  Over the past 6-9 months however, OPEC and non-OPEC countries have steadily decreased their production and have managed to cut 1.2 million bpd.  This 3% total cut in oil production has managed to drive values up almost 25%.  Though the US continues to ramp up its production, these imports, or lack thereof are killing us.  Every so often, the President will take to twitter and demand that OPEC discontinue their cuts.  This is usually enough to bring crude oil values down a buck or so, but unfortunately it seems to be short lived as the market rebounds a day or two later. 

As much as President Trump tries to help with his tweets, the new jobs created as well as the overall confidence in the US economy that have become the norm under his leadership are only helping push crude oil values up.  US unemployment is at an all-time low of 3.8%.  We have watched the DOW’s steady incline over the past few years; going up over 30 points in the past three months.  The Federal Reserve has also taken advantage of the stronger economy outlook, raising interest rates several times in the past year; from 1.7% to 2.5%- 1/4% of this growth occurring within the last four months.  Globally, things are not as strong; and this may be our only saving grace.  Considered to be one of the foremost developing nation, China, was projected to have extraordinary growth throughout 2019/2020.   Well, they are a mess!  Their projected growth figures have been cut three times this year, with more to come. 

I honestly don’t know that we will see a lot of change over the next three months.  But, as the OPEC cut agreements get closer to their maturity dates, I think we may see some excitement.    

Written by Kim Leisner, Energy Sales Manager

Don’t Skip the Weight on Silage Covers

Recent regulations may change how some U.S. producers weigh down their silage covers. Yet, the benefits to properly covering silage bunkers or piles continue to provide returns.

“The additional time and expense to comply with new waste tire regulations may cause producers to question the need for covering piles at all,” notes Renato Schmidt, Ph.D., Technical Services – Silage, Lallemand Animal Nutrition. “There is absolutely no question that effectively covering piles saves money by preserving important nutrients in the silage, reducing dry matter (DM) losses and maintaining the hygienic quality of the feed. The effort to cover and seal silage piles is a vital part of the silage management program.”

Covering piles helps create the anaerobic environment required for the ensiling fermentation on the most critical portion in terms of porosity — the surface. As a result, the quality of the fermentation process is improved compared to uncovered piles. During storage, well-maintained plastic covers help prevent oxygen ingress, which can cause spoilage.

For example, sealing and covering a 40-foot by 100-foot bunker returns approximately $2,000 in improved silage DM recovery when filled with corn silage. Plus, feeding spoiled silage from an uncovered silo can reduce feed intake and digestibility and potentially lead to metabolic and reproductive issues in the herd.

A combination of high-quality plastic and adequate weighting helps prevent losses. Use plastic that is at least five millimeters thick and dual layer — black inner and white outer — to resist deterioration. Also consider using plastic film with an increased oxygen barrier, Dr. Schmidt advises.

Weighting the plastic down prevents air from seeping underneath the covering. Full-casing waste tires have been the standard for anchoring bunk silo covers for years, but they are heavy to move and bulky to store. Standing water in a full-casing tire can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. With the increasing concern around West Nile virus (WNV) — and the new state regulations prohibiting full tires — producers may be searching for new options, such as:

  • Modifying tires by leaving tires on the rims, removing tire sidewalls, drilling holes in the tire sidewalls or cutting tires in half
  • Covering tires with plastic to reduce standing water
  • Treating tires with a mosquito larvicide, which requires a certified pesticide applicator
  • Replacing tires with sidewall disks
  • Using heavy equipment tire beads
  • Finding alternatives to tires, such as gravel or sand bags

Dr. Schmidt advises producers to choose an option that maintain the integrity of the plastic. Tears or holes reduce the effectiveness of the covering and allow oxygen into the pile.

“Covering and sealing silage bunkers makes economic sense,” Dr. Schmidt says. “There are options for producers looking for alternative ways to weigh down covers. Don’t drop a best practice that pencils out in the long run.”

Originally posted by: Lallemand Animal Nutrition

© 2019 CHS Inc.