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Kernel Processing Information Series

During the 2018 and 2019 growing seasons the New York Farm Viability Institute funded a project led by Cornell PRO-DAIRY to better understand a number of field factors related to corn silage processing score. Joe Lawrence, Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY, and Allison Kerwin, Dairy Field Research Specialist and PhD Candidate, have developed a series of fact sheets on kernel processing based on this project.

Corn Silage Harvest Toolkit: 2020 Edition

Each corn silage harvest season presents its own unique opportunities and challenges. The following is a summary of considerations and resources to consider in preparation for a successful corn silage harvest.

2020 Opportunities

  • Lower rainfall generally results in improved corn silage fiber digestibility
  • Above average heat increases likelihood of harvest before “mud” season

2020 Challenges

There are many keys to corn silage harvest, and while they are important every year, they are especially important in a year when concerns may persist regarding sufficient forage inventories as every pound of forage successfully preserved counts more than ever.

Storage Planning
It is never too late to think about your silage storage resources. Plan ahead to assure that storage space is adequate for the tonnage that needs to be stored: improper storage setup and overfilling storages leads to significantly greater shrink losses. It is also important think about separating forages by quality to optimize their use by different animal groups. Article: Strategic Forage Storage Planning

Set up Chopper for Optimum Performance
Over the last two growing seasons a NYFVI sponsored project looked at corn chopper performance, with a specific focus on kernel processing and corn plant characteristics. Kernel Processing Factsheet Series

Preserve Every Pound of DM You Harvest
When there are concerns about adequate feed inventories there is no room for excessive shrink (spoilage losses). Monitor fields, harvest at the correct whole plant DM, and make every effort to ensile the crop properly, particularly when using bunks and piles, as shrink losses can be the highest in these storage systems.

  • PACK! PACK! PACK! – Work to achieve a high density by properly packing the silage
  • Reduce shrink losses
    • Improves feed quality
    • Increases storage capacity
  • Consider the use of scientifically backed bacterial inoculants
  • Immediately cover forage with plastic
    • Oxygen barrier products are worth the investment

Additional Materials:

Corn Silage Harvest Considerations Podcast Series

Cornell PRO-DAIRY and Cornell Cooperative Extension are introducing a new podcast series that is coming soon to the PRO-DAIRY podcast page.

One can argue that IOFC (income over feed cost) begins when forage is delivered to the feed center - in this case the bunk. This podcast series delves into the practical considerations for corn silage harvest. We start with a recap of the growing season in the first episode. In subsequent episodes we focus on the key practices for harvest, storage and preservation.

EPISODE 1 - Corn Silage 2020 Season Recap
Ron Kuck, Dairy Educator, CCE of Cayuga County, and Joe Lawrence, Forage Management Specialist, Cornell PRO-DAIRY, kick off this podcast series by discussing the 2020 growing season, including the impact weather has had on the growing season, what to consider when assessing fields, staging harvest, whole plant DM in decision making, storage planning, and what to do if you’re short of space.

Dairy Profit Monitor – Year to Date Performance
Lauren Hill

32 dairy farms have participated in the Dairy Profit Monitor program from January through June of 2020. While there was some optimism for improved milk prices and farm profitability at the beginning of the year, the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed the outlook for producers. Net milk income over total feed costs per cow (NMIOTFC) decreased from $9.50 on average in January to $4.50 in May. June started to show a rebound in NMIOTFC, back up to $6.50. However, if we analyze net milk income over total feed costs with a fixed milk price, January through June stayed close to $8.00 per cow. Since producers can’t control the milk price, looking at NMIOTFC with a fixed milk price allows us to analyze management changes and performance that we can control on farm. View analysis and graphs of the Dairy Profit Monitor Year to Date Performance.

Onboarding Dairy Employees 2020: Safe, Productive and Engaged from Day One
The first days and weeks on the job set the course for a new farm employee. Cornell Agricultural Workforce Development is seeking dairy farmers to participate in the second year of an onboarding project funded by the New York Farm Viability Institute.

Farms in the Onboarding Project work closely with an adviser to customize a professional and legally-compliant new employee onboarding process, and to improve farm human resource management practices. Well planned onboarding leads to a successful long-term manager-employee relationship with higher employee retention, safety, productivity, and job satisfaction.

Use Employee Onboarding to achieve:

  • COMPLIANCE. Basic compliance with regulations and policies.
  • CLARITY. Training on safety, work procedures, and expectations.
  • CULTURE. Communicate your farm’s procedures, values, traditions and norms.
  • CONNECTION. Help employees forge relationships at work and find their place to engage and thrive.

Over the next year, the Ag Workforce Development Team will partner with 25 farms in a three-session Zoom series to develop onboarding materials, trainings and methods.

If your farm is looking for a way to improve employee retention and increase overall productivity of employees, contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension Educator or Richard Stup, Cornell Agricultural Workforce Development, at

Safe Harvest 2020: COVID-19 Office Hours for Agricultural Producers and Packers
Cornell CALS and Cornell Cooperative Extension will host office hours for farmers and packers to answer any questions they might have about managing and responding to protect the farm workforce during COVID-19. Office hours will be held each Tuesday at 4 PM EDT, beginning August 25 and running through September. Participants can log in from a computer or call in from a phone to ask questions or just to listen. A panel of experts will field questions. Questions that experts cannot immediately answer will be recorded, reviewed and answered later. The next six weeks are critical as seasonal harvest and the workforce ramps up. Register online to receive a link to all office hours dates. Registration is free but required.

Calf and Heifer Management Online Course

WHEN: October 16 - December 18, 2020
WHERE: All online!
REGISTRATION: $265.00 per person. Register before October 1 and receive a $25 discount!


The Calf and Heifer Management Online Course will cover basic calf and heifer management principles. It is led by staff from Cornell University and industry researchers and designed for dairy business on-farm personnel (owner or employee) who are seeking to increase their knowledge of calf and heifer management. Participants should possess a formal or informal background in dairy cattle management, but not necessarily in calf and heifer management. A certificate of completion from Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY is awarded upon completion of the course.


Calf Nutrition Pre- and Post-Weaning, Replacement Economics, Colostrum Management, Inventory Management, Genetics, Calf Health, and Housing.

r. Mike Van Amburgh, Cornell University, Department of Animal Science
Mr. Jason Karszes, Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY
Dr. Kimberley Morrill
, CHR Hansen
Margaret Quaassdorff, Cornell Cooperative Extension, NWNY Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team

Dr. Heather Huson, Cornell University, Department of Animal Science
Dr. Rob Lynch, Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY
Curt Gooch, PE, Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY

Dr. Rob Lynch, DVM, Dairy Herd Health and Management Specialist
Ms. Kathy Barrett, Dairy Management Education Specialist

Contact Us:

For more information about PRO-DAIRY, visit

Julie Berry, Editor | Tom Overton, Director | Facebook

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