Whether you're looking to buy or sell corn or milo stalks this year, Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska Extension forage specialist, says the sale price should be based on the value of field nutrients being sacrificed.

"Nutrients removed by stalk bales may need to be replaced with extra fertilizer. Using this fall's prices, stalks contain about $12-$13/ton worth of nitrogen, phosphate, sulfur and lime," Anderson says. "Corn stalk removal also can reduce soil organic matter, increase erosion risk, and increase soil water evaporation. Nebraska research shows dryland corn yield declines about 2 bu./ton of residue removed, while irrigation costs increase similarly to maintain corn yield. That’s another $12-$14/ton."

Anderson pegs labor and equipment cost for baling stocks at $20-$25/ton. All told, he says the value of corn stalks removed is $50-$55/ton.

As for the feeding value, Anderson says, one rule of thumb suggests that the dollar feeding value is midway between that of straw and prairie hay. "But, feed value of stalks varies greatly, and cattle tend to waste more of it. For example, if you bale the entire field you may only have 3-4% protein and less than 50% TDN. Harvest just the tailings in the two or three rows behind the combine and TDN increases to the lower 50s and protein to about 5%. But you should test to make sure," he says.