From Vermont to the Chesapeake Bay there are many areas that have experienced significant flood damage as a result of Tropical Storm Lee.

From major flooding along the Susquehanna River, to smaller watersheds with less significant flooding periods, many silage producers are faced with significant challenges in trying to maximize stored forages that resulted in significant yield reductions due to the drought earlier in 2011.

Many fields have significant losses due to the stand being knocked flat while others only experienced extremely high water levels but are still standing.

Both of these conditions can greatly affect silage harvest and the resulting forage quality at feedout.

Here are a few comments to consider prior to harvesting these fields for silage.

First, be sure to contact your crop insurance agent. These men and women are important in documenting potential and real crop losses.

Second, be patient. Monitor fields every few days. Watch for the potential for stalk breakage and development of molds in the ear and in the stalks. Your goals for silage harvest should be to harvest at the proper moisture levels and to incorporate all of the proper harvest and storage practices. This will be more important this year than ever.

Flood damaged silage crops should be segregated from non-damaged crops. It is preferable to have an ag bag of less than desirable feed and deal with it in the bag than to have the crop mixed in with other forages and deal with a larger problem.

Make plans now for the possibility of a short crop.

There is no scientific research that documents problems with ensiled forages, but comments from producers over many floods would indicate that flood damaged crops present significant challenges for proper fermentation.

Many suggest that this poor fermentation is caused by contamination on the crop surface from flood waters that may have sewage water, petroleum products or even silt on the surface.

It is thought this surface contamination contains “bad” bacteria populations that out compete the natural fermentation bacteria.