When making decisions for planting corn for silage, several factors should be considered. Factors such as soil type, soil fertility, planting and harvest dates, and planting rate should be evaluated. Most importantly, these questions should be answered:
Let’s look at each of these factors:
Soil Type – In some cases, fields that are not well-suited for grain are selected for silage production. In fields that are poorly drained or remain saturated enough to delay planting, shorter maturity products may need to be selected to match up with your predicted harvest schedule. These are fields that the use of Acceleron® Seed Applied Solutions ELITE disease protection should be considered as a priority to help strengthen germination and stand establishment for the higher plant populations required in silage production.
Soil Fertility – Silage growers are often challenged with maintaining soil fertility, especially in fields used annually for silage production. With high removal rates of fertility, soil tests are a necessity to help maximize the potentials of production and silage quality. If manure is to be spread on the field, a nutrient analysis of the manure should be acquired to determine the proper application rate. In low fertility fields, selecting products with strong root and stalk scores may help improve harvestability.
Planting and Harvest Dates – Early planting can potentially improve silage yield and quality; however, the return is usually less than grain production returns. Therefore, if planting both grain and silage acres, planting for grain should be the priority. Most silage producers take special care in selecting corn silage product(s) with the maturity to match an anticipated harvest schedule, especially when custom harvesters are involved. This helps allow for the harvesting of more acres at the 60%-70% total plant moisture content which is needed for proper packing and effective fermentation. Harvesting silage too dry allows for air pockets, spoilage and molds to develop. Harvesting silage too wet allows for seepage and loss of nutrients.
Planting rate – In general, silage planting rates are 10%-15% higher than corn planted for grain. A review of product standability ratings should be made to help determine a planting rate, especially if the field may be harvested for grain.
Product selection – In general, corn products selected for tonnage are five to seven days longer in maturity than those selected for grain. Taller, longer season products take advantage of the available growing season to produce grain and stover. Products selected for quality may be more medium in stature but have a high grain to stover ratio. It is important to select products with insect and disease protection to help widen the harvest window. Remember to look at silage yield and quality data from multiple years and locations to determine which product can potentially provide the mix of yield and quality desired.
Be sure to check with your Channel Seedsman or Channel TA for the latest information and product positioning for your silage needs.