Published on February 21, 2014
Corn Silage Production www.RCVetS.com
Drought-Stressed Corn: Silage is an Option • Drought-stressed corn that is unlikely to resume growth should be ensiled. • 85 to 100% of the normal net energy content. • May contain more crude protein. • May contain high nitrate concentrations, especially in the lower third of the plant. • Do not feed until at least 3 weeks after the silo has been filled.
Corn Silage: Nitrate Caution % Nitrate (NO3) in Dry Matter Feeding Instructions 0.0 – 0.44% Safe to feed. 0.44 – 0.88% Limit to 50% of total dry ration for pregnant animals. 0.88 – 1.50% Limit to 25% of total dry ration. Avoid feeding pregnant animals. Over 1.50% Toxic. Do not feed. At high enough concentrations, nitrates are poisonous to cattle. The ensiling process will decrease nitrates by 30 to 50%.
Corn Silage Harvesting • Milk line is ½ to ¾ down the kernel. • Leaves above the ear should be mostly green. • Dry matter content should be near 35%, slightly less for storage in bunkers, trenches, or stacks. • Silage should be chopped into lengths of approximately 3/8 to 1/2 inch. 1/2 3/4
Corn Silage Storage • Any structure that preserves the green and moist forage in the absence of air and water. • Silo • Bunker • Bags
Corn Silage Moisture: Microwave Test • • • • • • Collect a representative sample of fresh plants. Chop the plants in 1 to 2 inch pieces. Weight a sample (about 3 to 4 oz or 100 g) Spread the sample uniformly and thinly over a microwave safe dish and place in oven. Heat for 1 to 2 minutes and weigh. Heat for 30 seconds and reweigh. Repeat until two weight recordings are similar. If the sample chars, use the previous weight. Calculate the percent moisture. [ % moisture = fresh wt – final wt. fresh wt ] X 100
Corn Silage Moisture: Grab Test Squeeze a handful of green chop as tightly as possible for 90 seconds to make a forage ball. Condition of forage ball Approx. Dry Matter Content Holds shape and there is considerable free juice Below 30% Holds shape but very little free juice 25 to 30% Falls apart slowly and there is no free juice 30 to 40% Ball falls apart rapidly Above 40%
Corn Silage: Production • Planting Date – April 1 to May 1 in western Kentucky – April 15 to May 15 in eastern and central KY – Soil temperatures should be above 50oF at a 2inch depth for 3 or 4 days • Planting Depth – 1 ½ - 2 inches (depending on moisture and temp)
Corn Silage: Production • Planting Population – 24,000 to 30,000 seeds/acre – increase of 2,000 seeds/acre over grain corn • Row Width – 30 inches • Fertility – Follow AGR-1: Lime and Fertilizer Recommendations
Corn Silage vs. Grain Production • Increase plant populations by about 2,000 seeds/A compared to grain corn. • Add more pounds of potash per acre compared to grain corn (see AGR-1). • Use a full- to late-season, high grain producing hybrid.
Silo Gases: Caution • Lethal gases - greatest danger is between 12 to 72 hours after filling. • Run the blower. • Stay out of the silo for at least one week after filling. • Keep doors closed between silos and barns. Any experience of the slightest throat irritation or coughing requires immediate medical attention.
Nutrient Sampling for Feed Quality • Collect a couple handfuls of each load of silage that is being unloaded. • Keep the samples out of sunlight. • Mix the samples together. • Keep refrigerated until sent off for analysis.
Silage Publications • AGR-79: Producing corn for grain and silage • ID-139: A comprehensive guide to corn management • AGR-1: Lime and fertilizer recommendations • AEU-41: Temporary silage storage • ID-86: Using drought-stressed corn: harvesting, storage, feeding, pricing
Corn Hybrid Types • Dual-Purpose – Normal corn hybrids used for grain and/or silage • NutriDense – Slightly higher oil and protein content in the kernel • Waxy – 100% amylopectin (believed to be more digestible) • Leafy – Have more leaves above the ear than normal hybrids • BMR – Lower lignin content than normal corn, making it more digestible
No-Till Silage Project • Four hybrids – – – – Dual Purpose Nutri-Dense Waxy Leafy • Three Populations – 22,000 – 27,500 – 33,000 • Two N Fertility Levels – AGR-1 – Yield Goal
Hybrid effect on yield 18 16 14 12 Dry Matter 10 (Mg/ha) 8 6 4 2 0 a a a b ES213ND ES112 F2F797 8464wx Hybrid
N Rate (lbs/acre) Crude Protein (%) Green Chop Silage
Corn Yields Lexington, 2003 Hybrid Type ES112 Dual Purpose NutriDense Leafy (TMF) Waxy ES213ND F2F797 8464wx Silage Yield Ear:Stover (Tons/A) (Ratio) 22.1 0.68 a 23.0 0.67 a 24.6 0.39 a 15.9 0.66 a Note: Interactions between population, fertility and replication prevent statistical comparison of hybrids for silage yield.
Corn Yields Lexington, 2003 Hybrid Type Silage Yield Grain Yield (Tons/A) (Bu/A) 22.1 241.4 Dual Purpose ES213ND Nutri23.0 233.2 Dense Leafy F2F797 24.6 203.5 (TMF) Waxy 8464wx between population, fertility and replication prevent statistical comparison of hybrids. 15.9 194.1 Note: Interactions ES112
No-Till Silage • Data is being analyzed for second year of research.
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