Roughly 8% of corn acres are grown for corn silage. In this application, ideal harvest occurs when the crop has reached 65% moisture and 50% kernel milk line. During this harvest window, the whole plant is cut low to the ground and is chopped into small pieces before being compacted into a silo or bunker, ensiled, mixed into a TMR and fed to dairy cows for a season or more. Given this process, an ideal silage hybrid must satisfy an entirely different set of parameters than a grain hybrid. It must have a high total plant yield of digestible starch and fiber, a long harvest window in which the plant dries to the appropriate moisture and remains there for an extended period, adequate sugars to promote fermentation, and a relatively short storage period to save on space and reduce dry matter losses. Ultimately, a corn silage hybrid must produce a robust, reliable, digestible crop that will promote rumination and readily produce high quality milk when mixed into a TMR and fed to a lactating cow.
High grain yield with high test weight.
High total plant yield of digestible forage.
As dry as possible at grain harvest time.
50% milk line for as long as possible at silage harvest time.
As hard as possible to decrease possibility of breakage.
Soft and easily broken for maximum digestion in the rumen.
Small to decrease possibility of breakage.
Large to increase possibility of breakage.
Wet to keep plant alive as long as possible to reach ideal grain harvest.
Dries to achieve 65% total plant moisture and stays in that range to extend harvest window.
As stiff and solid as possible for late season grain harvest.
As soft and flexible as possible, yet strong enough to remain standing through late silage harvest.
High position on the plant to ensure harvest by combine.
Low position on the plant to increase proportion of digestible fiber above the ear.
Ideal at Harvest
Wet strong stalk that supports ears of vitreous, hard, dry kernels.
Large plant with a soft stalk and moist ear of large breakable kernels. Stalk and ear dry at a complimentary rate.