Maximize Energy Production From Grain Crops

Three ways to boost potential energy harvested from corn acres this fall and winter.

Published on: Aug 21, 2012

Livestock producers face record high prices for corn and energy in dairy or beef rations. Some are already heading to the fields with their silage choppers.

But stop at least long enough consider these three ways to maximize harvested corn energy from Greg Roth, Extension agronomist at Penn State. It may change your strategy for better results, he hints.

Consider delaying silage harvest a few days
Penn State and University of Wisconsin colleagues collaborated in a study over six locations, measuring starch in silage at 25% milkline, half milkline and 75% milkline. Then they compared that to the corn yield harvested by combine.

HOLD OFF SILAGE HARVEST? Corn is laying down 4 to 5 bushels of grain energy per bushel per day. Thats energy needed in feed rations.
HOLD OFF SILAGE HARVEST? Corn is laying down 4 to 5 bushels of grain energy per bushel per day. That's energy needed in feed rations.

"We converted the starch yield to bushels, assuming corn grain is about 70% starch," explains Roth. "Grain yields increased by an average of 61 bushels per acre between early silage harvest and the combine yield. Between the half milk and combine harvest, the increase was 37 bushels per acre.

"While these numbers sound high, consider that a high-yielding corn crop is laying down about 4 to 5 bushels per acre per day during grain-fill. So, a five day delay in silage harvest could likely mean an extra 20 to 25 bushels of grain energy per acre in the silo.