Good Silage Advice

Good management is key to making the most of silage crops.

Published on: Jul 1, 2011

With today's high feed costs  it's important for growers to pay close attention to field conditions and harvest timing/management to help make the most of their silage crops. Nutritionist Steve Soderlund with Pioneer says it always comes down to good management. Decisions made throughout the growing season can affect silage success and a producer's ability to be more profitable.

Soderlund offers these observations: It is now critical to know the state of individual fields and individual hybrid maturities so growers can target harvest dates. Harvest timing can be affected by many factors beyond just weather conditions - including soil fertility, weed control and pest management. These factors can influence whole plant moisture content and drydown rates.

Harvesting high-quality corn silage depends on moisture and maturity. Silage in the 63% to 68% moisture range is best. Soderlund warns growers should keep in mind that kernel milkline is not always a good indicator in some hybrids, so overall moisture is still the best measurement. And pushing an early harvest may mean quality is reduced because the starch doesn't have time to fill in.

Finally, make sure you use good quality inoculants that can enhance fermentation efficiency, reduce dry matter losses, improve aerobic stability or bunklife and improve fiber digestibility. And once it's in the bin cover it up immediately. Any rain will lead to some spoilage loss on top, possibly affecting the bottom line.