Selecting Silage Hybrids for your farm, Adam Parker from Maizex Seeds Inc.

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Source: Glenn Seeds

Now that you have completed your silage harvest for this season, it is time to consider what you need to plant for next year. Selecting corn hybrids for your farm is one of the most important decisions that can impact success in your crop. There are a number of things to consider when selecting your silage hybrids to make sure they align with your production system and desired ration goals. We strongly suggest that you consult with your Nutritionist to identify your ration and production goals to pick the type of silage corn that best fits your operation.

 

Selecting your type of Silage Corn:

There are 3 main types of silage corn that producers are now growing and each has different attributes to consider:

Dual Purpose: These are Hybrids that have been developed for Grain production but also make very good silage options. These are generally high yielding, tall and robust hybrids that provide high tonnage and high energy content feed. They also provide flexibility for swing acres and changing harvest plans in season.

Management notes: Dual Purpose varieties are generally easiest to grow as they require less specific management. Planting populations can range from 30-38,000 plants per acre. For better digestibility consider a lower population, while a higher population will give you greater tonnage. Standability will more than likely also be the best with a dual purpose. Consider applying a fungicide to your dual purpose hybrid to increase yield, quality and digestibility.

Silage Specific Hybrids: These hybrids have been bred for increased whole plant digestibility and high tonnage. These hybrids tend to have a higher Leaf:Grain ratio, less lignin in the stalk and a softer kernel texture. These hybrids are best suited for silage and should be avoided as a grain hybrid due to lower grain quality and standability late in the season.

Management notes: Silage Specific hybrids need to be planted at a lower population of 27-32,000 plants per acre. These large robust plants will compensate at these lower populations and standability is improved. Plant 80% of your silage acres to a Silage specific hybrid and 20% to a Dual purpose to allow for harvest flexibility in the fall. Silage specific hybrids are not designed to be combined or left out late in season. Apply a fungicide to Silage specific hybrids to improve yield, plant health and standability.

 

BMR- Brown Mid Rib: BMR hybrids are also meant for silage only and have a specific phenotype that has increased stalk digestibility due to a lower lignin content. These hybrids tend to have a lower yield potential and are not very stress tolerant. BMR hybrids require higher management in the field and ration formulation.

Management notes: Plant at moderate populations as standability can be an issue. Plant to specific fields to manage separately. Consider having separate storage for BMR corn silage to help balance the ration. Apply a fungicide to improve standability and reduce plant stress.

In terms of differentiating between silage hybrids, in 2019 Maizex Seeds has announced the launch of two silage hybrid families.  EnergyPlus Hybrids are dual purpose in nature with high energy levels and flexibility to use as silage, high moisture or grain corn.  FeastPlus are silage specific hybrids that have been developed for their increased palatability, digestibility and high tonnage yield. Ask your Maizex Seeds dealer for more information or watch our Feast Plus vs. Energy Plus video.

 

Selecting the desired traits:

Every operation is different and each producer must consider in advance where they are going to position their silage corn. Some farms are able to rotate their crops while others due to logistics or limited land base are forced to grow Corn on Corn. This gives you direction on what traits your corn will need to grow the best crop possible. If you are growing your silage on rotated ground, following alfalfa, soybeans or wheat for example, this gives the producer the options of using all the available traits or none at all. If you are in a corn on corn situation it is STRONGLY recommended that you use a rootworm protected hybrid. Root worm traits help protect the plant from insects and improve yield and standability. Because not all trait options are offered in certain genetics this may limit the options you have in certain hybrids.

 

Choosing the correct maturity of Silage Corn:

The next thing to consider once you have determined the type of silage hybrid and the desired traits that you need is the maturity of the corn that you want to grow. Generally the guide line is that you would select a hybrid that is 150-200CHU or 7-10RM (Relative Maturity days) longer then the adapted grain corn for your area. An example would be that if you grow a 2750CHU/ 92RM grain hybrid, then you would select a silage hybrid that is ~2950CHU/ 99RM in maturity. We suggest this to try and maximize the growing season and accumulate as many tonnes per acre as possible.

 

Quick reference guide on choosing a silage hybrid:

Tonnage:

Silage Specific = Dual Purpose > BMR

 

Energy Content:

Dual Purpose > BMR > Silage Specific

Flexibility of End Use (silage, high moisture, etc):

Dual Purpose > BMR > Silage Specific

 

Digestability:

BMR > Silage Specific > Dual Purpose

 

 

Summary:

Now you have evaluated your needs on your farm and considered the attributes of the different types of silage hybrids, talk to Your Trusted Seed Partner for your specific needs. They will have the knowledge of the products that have the best fit for your area and can provide recommendations on how to best manage them on your farm.

 

https://www.progressiveforage.com/forage-types/silage/comparing-corn-silage-hybrids https://fyi.uwex.edu/forages/corn-silage-types-for-best-performance/ http://corn.agronomy.wisc.edu/Silage/S001.aspx

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