Harvesting

By autumn the cobs are ripe but they are not dry enough for the grain to be harvested from them, so the whole plant - stem, leaves and cobs - is cut and chopped to make silage. This is done with a forage harvester, the same machine that made grass silage earlier in the year but now fitted with a different cutting head.

The chopped maize is carted to a concrete pit near the farmyard where it is stacked, compressed and sheeted over with plastic. After a week to ten days it is ready to feed to the dairy cows as part of their mixed diet. The high starch content of the maize silage is just what the cows need to produce milk during the winter.