A growing number of Iowa grain farmers are giving up hope on a harvestable corn crop in the face of the ongoing drought. Some insurance agencies report a few farmers have started the process of filing crop insurance claims. There’s also evidence in the fields as some farmers have started chopping up corn for silage to feed livestock.

Koopman Hay and Storage of Newhall, in eastern Iowa, offers a service chopping corn for farmers. Dustin Koopman says they’re chopping up more acres than ever before.

“Some farmers are chopping a lot more than they need in order to sell some later. Some farmers are chopping silage who don’t have any livestock at all right now. They may be buying cattle later or selling it off,” Koopman said. Benton County farmer Doug Erger has 50 head of cattle and typically chops up ten acres of his corn to feed his livestock through the winter.

This summer, he looked at the condition of the corn in the field and decided to cut down 50 acres early. Erger said with the drought, he’s afraid he’ll need a huge amount of feed to get the cattle through until sometime next year.

“This is not a normal year, and I feel I will have to feed from now till next pasture season, which would be next June,” Erger said. The field Erger is chopping up had few ears of corn and the only part of the plant worth anything is the stalk and leaves for his cattle.

Erger notified his insurance agent about a claim for crop loss and left a few rows of corn standing for the insurance adjuster to look at later. Some crop insurance policies bar farmers from chopping the corn plants for resale as silage.

Crop insurance typically pays a farmer up to 80% of production costs in case of a total crop loss. The I.S.U. Extension Service has more information about silage:   www.iowabeefcenter.org/information/QualityCornSilage.pdf

By Dave Franzman, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids