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HARVESTING OF MAIZE

253should be taken to reduce their ravages to a minimum by raising the bottom of the crib from the ground, thus reducing their hiding places as well as giving access to cats and dogs.

342. Maize Fodder.—In the North Atlantic and Southern States, and in portions of the North Central States, most of the maize is cut and put into shocks or into the silo. This cutting may be, and for the most part still is, done by means of a corn knife, although the corn cutter and the corn harvester are both largely used, the latter especially where maize is cut for the silo. A machine has recently been invented which cuts and shocks the maize at one operation, but its use has not yet become general.

From 5x7, or thirty-five hills, to 12x12, or 144 hills, are placed in a single shock. The lesser quantity is common in the North Atlantic States, where, according to the Connecticut Station, it is more difficult to preserve flint stover, while ten hills square, or 324 shocks per acre, is the common

amount in the North Central States. A common method is to tie four hills together without cutting them off and then to shock the rest of the plants around these; while in other cases a wooden horse is used as a temporary support. When the shock is completed, a light rope with a hook on one end is used to draw the top of the shock together, when it is tied with twine or in some

[graphic]

Husking rolls of maize husker and shredder.

[graphic]

Maize harvester. Cuts and binds plants into bun-
dles, which may afterwards be put into shocks;
also very useful in harvesting maize for silage.

cases with a stalk of maize. After the plant has become cured, which usually takes about a month, the shocks are generally

husked by hand in the field, the stover tied into bundles; the four hills which had been used for supports are cut off and bound with the rest of the stover. These bundles are again shocked and the shocks tied, or the stover is hauled directly to the barn and stored. It is necessary to choose suitable weather conditions, since if the plants are too dry, the leaves will fall off and be lost, while extremely wet weather would be equally injurious.

[graphic]

Maize cutter. Blade on each side severs stalks while men riding upon the machine gather them together and shock them. Two rows may be cut at one time, or, raising one blade, only one row.

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Methods of cutting maize by hand. A, wooden horse used to support stalks while shock is being built; B, four hills used as support for shock when wooden horse is not used; C, rope with hook for drawing shock together prior to tying with string shown at Al; D, maize knife dsed in North Central States; E, maize knife used in North Atlantic States

The husker and shredder, which has now come into considerable use, eliminates the labor of husking and puts the stover in a condition to be easily handled. It may be stored in the barn or even put into a stack, but in order to keep, the stover must be thoroughly dry at the time of husking. Itinerant machines go from farm to farm in many localities husking either by the day or at a fixed price per bushel. Threshing machines have sometimes been used for threshing maize fodder. The chief objection to the threshing machine is that it shells the grain, which at that time usually contains too much moisture to be stored in this manner.

Where beef cattle are fattened, the maize fodder, generally called "shocked corn," is fed without being husked, thus supplying concentrated food and roughage at the same time.

343. Topping.—Removing that part of the culm or stalk above the ears instead of cutting and shocking the whole plant has been somewhat widely practiced in both the North and South Atlantic States.

The Pennsylvania Station1 found that by topping, 1,050 pounds of stover were obtained at a loss of 540 pounds of ear maize, as compared with allowing the maize to ripen and merely gathering ears. Mississippi Station,2 as the result of three years' trials, found a net loss in feeding value of more than twenty per cent. Seven other stations show an average loss of thirteen bushels per acre, which was "more than the feeding value of the 'fodder' secured." At the Arkansas Station,3 neither topping nor pulling reduced the yield of grain so much as cutting and shocking the whole plant when ears were just past the roasting-ear stage, as shown in the following table:

1 Penn. Rpt. 1891, pp. 58-60. » Miss. Bui. 33 (1895), p. 63. * Ark. Bui. 24 (1893), p. 12s.

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344. Pulling.—Throughout the Southern States there is a tendency for the leaves of maize to dry up before the ears are mature, and it has been the custom to strip the leaves from the culms while they are still green and the ears immature.

"Fodder pulling is effected according to latitude and season from the first of August to the middle or even the last of September. When the operator's hands are full of blades and he can hold no more, the quantity is termed a 'hand,' and is bound rapidly with a twist and hung on a broken stalk to cure. On gathering a day or so later, from three to four hands form a 'bundle,' which is, also, bound with a few twisted blades. The bundle weighs from one and three-fourths to two pounds and forms the staple ' roughage' of southern draft stock." 1

At least eight stations in the Southern States have investigated the influence of this practice on the yield of grain, and in general report a decrease of from ten to twenty per cent. The earlier the work was done, the greater the loss. Redding2 concludes that "pulling fodder" is only expedient under the most favorable circumstances, but where it is resolved to do so, the best practice is to strip the blades, from and including the earblade, downward, at about the usual time of pulling, and in a week or ten days to cut off stalks above the ear. Besides adding largely to yield of stover, it is believed to be more expeditious.

The Florida Station 8 reports that "pulling fodder" has the effect of loosening the husks on the ear before the grains become hard, thus promoting the ravages of the weevil.

1 The Book of Corn, p. 169.
» Ga. Bui. 23 (1893), PP- 81-82.
8 Fla. Bui. 16 (1892), p. 8.

345. Silage.—Probably the most important change that has been made in the handling of the maize plant in the last quarter of a century is the practice of putting the unripened plant cut into small pieces by a feed cutter into a receptacle with air-tight sides and bottom, called a silo. The essential value of this process, aside from economical farm management, lies in the greater palatability of silage as compared with maize fodder. Experiments show the digestibility of silage and maize fodder to be about equal when all other conditions except method of preserving remain the same. A large number of American feeding experiments, mostly with milch cows, show, in general, about equal food value for amount of dry matter consumed, but that ordinarily there is less waste in the consumption of silage, thus adding to the total returns per acre, and that a rather higher rate of feeding can be maintained with silage, thus adding to the daily production of butter fat.

346. The Silo.—A silo should have air-tight bottom and sides and should be constructed in such a manner and of such materials as to be durable, protect the silage from freezing, and afford ventilation. Its sides should be perpendicular, rigid, with inner surface smooth. The efficiency of the silo will depend, also, upon its size and shape. The more compact the silage, the better it keeps. The greater its diameter and the more nearly circular the silo, the less the resistance of the sides to packing. The deeper the silo, the more compact the silage, and the less the surface exposure in proportion to the whole mass. A silo should never be less than twenty-four feet deep, thirty feet is very much better, and forty feet is desirable where practicable and the capacity desired

[graphic]

A modern stave silo.

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