FRANKFORT, Ky. —Agriculture Commissioner James Comer expressed grave concerns for Kentucky’s livestock producers and corn growers and cautioned them to take steps to protect themselves from potential losses. Comer said that drought-stricken corn silage could contain toxic levels of nitrogen. If fed to livestock, this corn silage could be fatal.
“I am not going to sugarcoat the severity of this situation,” said Commissioner Comer, who raises beef cattle on his farm in Monroe County. “I am very concerned for all our producers and their families.”
The Kentucky field office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that, as of Sunday, 72 percent of Kentucky’s corn crop and 76 percent of the Commonwealth’s pastures were rated poor or very poor. Commissioner Comer said some corn stalks aren’t producing ears, which has led many growers, especially those in western Kentucky, to consider chopping their corn into silage to salvage some value.
“Feeding silage can help livestock producers who need to feed their animals because their pastures are suffering from the dry weather,” Commissioner Comer said. “But producers should be careful about feeding corn silage until they have determined that the nitrogen content is at an acceptable level.”
The University of Kentucky Agricultural Weather Center stated Monday that western Kentucky and the bluegrass region are in extreme hydrological drought while central and eastern Kentucky are in severe drought. Western Kentucky would need more than 16 inches of rain to end the drought, according to UK. Because it does not appear that this drought will abate anytime soon, Commissioner Comer urged farmers who have federal crop insurance to check in with their adjusters before making any major decisions.
Commissioner Comer has communicated with the governor’s office regarding the possibility of a declaration of emergency in counties across the Commonwealth.