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Taking a Look At Corn Silage Trials – Maybe Rations Too

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
December 16, 2015        
Source:  Dan Martens, Extension Educator
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties


Taking a Look At Corn Silage Trials – Maybe Rations Too
By Dan Martens, University of Minnesota Extension

FOLEY, Minn. (12/16/15) — Let’s take a bit of a look at the 2015 Corn Silage Variety Trials. Besides for choosing varieties, this year’s trials may offer a clue about checking starch content in rations with 2015 corn silage.

The University of Minnesota had corn silage field trials on farms near Le Crescent and Rochester in Southeast Minnesota, and in Hutchinson and Melrose – called Central Minnesota. Hybrids were planted at 35,000 seeds per acre in 30 inch rows - at Melrose, planted on May 1 and harvested on September 18, with a goal to harvest at an average moisture of about 65%. At Melrose the actual moisture tests averaged 59% with a range from 54 to 65%... so drier than the goal. Dry matter yields averaged 11.3 tons per acre, with a range from 9.8 to 12.9. If we convert that to 65% moisture, the average wet ton yield would be 32 tons per acre with a range from 28 to 37.

There are several ways to estimate grain yield from silage yield. Nothing compares to measuring grain and silage yields side by side. If we use 7 bushels of corn per wet ton of corn silage at 65% moisture, we’d estimate an average of 226 bushels per acre with a range from 196 to 258. Starch tests indicate there could have been more bushels of corn per ton. Where that’s true, it likely requires some adjustments in ration. I know most people work closely with a nutritionist and adjust rations based on feed tests. 

Jeff Coulter, U of M Extension corn agronomist offers these suggestions in picking corn silage hybrids:
Longer-season hybrids tend to have higher silage yields. Hybrids planted for silage should be 5 to 10 days longer in relative maturity (RM) than hybrids planted for grain. Later hybrids may not be the best choice for farmers wanting early silage or the option to harvest the corn for grain. The 54 varieties at the Melrose plot ranged in Relative Maturity from 88 to 107 days.

Select multiple hybrids with a range in RM have a wider harvest window. Harvesting at the correct moisture level is critical for producing high quality silage; and if missed, it can negate the benefits of good hybrid selection. Planting hybrids with a range in maturity also widens the pollination window, and reduces the risk of more crop being hurt by hot and dry conditions during pollination. Consider agronomic traits that are important on your farm, such as herbicide and insect tolerance, drought and disease tolerance. Standability may be less important for silage hybrids due to earlier harvest.

Because corn silage is an energy source for livestock performance, producers should consider both silage quality and yield when selecting hybrids. Milk per ton is an overall indication of silage quality, and is estimated from forage analyses for crude protein (CP), neutral detergent fiber (NDF), NDF digestibility (NDFD), starch, and non-fiber carbohydrate. Once a suitable group of hybrids has been identified based on milk per ton and yield, further selection within this group can be based on specific forage quality and agronomic traits. Consult with a livestock nutritionist as well as your agronomist in selecting corn silage hybrids.

In Stearns Benton and Morrison Counties, you’re welcome to call the County Extension Office for assistance in finding or getting U of M Variety Trial Information: Stearns 320-255-6169, Benton 320-968-5077, and Morrison 320-632-0161. Website users can search for “Minnesota Agriculture Experiment Station.” You may find information provided through other channels.

January 8 & 9, Friday/Saturday - Minnesota Organic Conference, St. Cloud, Rivers Edge Convention Center.
January 14 & 15, Thursday/Friday - Upper Midwest Regional Fruit & Vegetable Growers Conference & Trade Show, St. Cloud, Rivers Edge Convention Center.
Watch for flyers about farmer’s Pesticide Applicator’s Workshop starting after mid-January.
SANTA’S NOTE: If there’s more corn in 2015 silage, it might be a great boost for Santa’s reindeer to get Santa home in time for Christmas dinner – in case you’d like to set some out for them. 


Daniel Martens
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems
(320) 968-5077
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