Miscanthus has to be harvested all at once and must be stored for later use every season. Standing miscanthus fields are harvested with a forage chopper or self-propelled mower conditioner (as previously discussed in our Miscanthus harvest concludes! blog) and therefore handled and stored in two different ways, i.e. Ag-Bag or bales. Storing miscanthus in Iowa is easily accomplished using proven methods readily available to any size producer.
Photo credit: Heaton Lab
Chopping vs. Baling
Most Iowa farmers prefer to chop miscanthus into 1 ½” lengths with a high capacity, heavy duty forage chopper. This low-density crop is blown into a dump cart where it might be transported off site. At the storage facility, the low-density material is stuffed into an Ag-Bag, (Figure 1). Similar to a corn silage bag, the bag preserves chopped miscanthus harvested at or below 15% moisture until it is ready for further processing. The chopped miscanthus can be stored uncovered, but significant losses should be considered.
In Iowa, some farmers may choose to use a mower conditioner and form into large round or square bales. Bales can be stored outside and stacked tightly. However, they will retain the consistent and proper moisture level and resist damage and degradation better if they are covered with tarpaulin or stored under a roof (Figure 2).
It is up to the farmer!
Miscanthus is a sturdy plant and whether baling or chopping, high capacity, powerful equipment works best. Miscanthus storage depends on the individual farmer’s harvest equipment and their ability to transfer directly to the end point. However, chopped material should be bagged and bales should be covered for storage in order to secure the quality of the material.