Maximize Forage Quality in Late-Planted Corn for Silage

When weather delays planting, expectations for corn silage harvest can change. Tonnage may drop 50% or more. If hybrid CRM (comparative relative maturity) changes do not occur there could also be a decrease in the grain-to-stover ratio due to the crop not being able to fully mature.

Switching Corn Hybrid Maturity

One strategy when facing delayed planting is to switch to an earlier-maturity corn hybrid. University data shows this is profitable for grain production because of reduced grain drying costs and higher grain yields. Since we are harvesting silage earlier, weather concerns are somewhat reduced. We can afford to wait a little longer before switching to earlier CRM hybrids. Some models are starting to look at weather history and predict when silage may mature. These models can help predict when to make the switch to an earlier CRM hybrid.

Corn silage can be a little more complicated: We need to consider yield and quality. Big switches in hybrid CRM can result in lower-yielding silage. If maturity is only reduced slightly and the hybrid is allowed to fully mature, yields of earlier day products can be similar. This is because half the silage yield coming from the ear, so a fully matured ear on an earlier day hybrid can drive yield. This more-mature plant also results in higher starch levels due to a better grain-to-stover ratio.

Data suggests little if any difference in fiber digestibility of later planted corn silage. There may be an increase in neutral detergent fiber digestibility (NDFd) due to reduced moisture often seen later in summer, which promotes increased fiber digestibility.

BMR Corn Hybrids for Late Planting

BMR hybrids follow the same set of parameters as discussed above. In the past, BMR hybrids tended to be a little less forgiving in adverse conditions. Traditional BMR hybrids are more susceptible to agronomic challenges. Yield drag associated with some BMR hybrids was magnified when planting earlier hybrids. However, Pioneer® brand BMR hybrids offer improved yield consistency and stronger agronomics, such as standability, than traditional BMR hybrids, especially in the earlier maturity range.

The Impact of Pioneer® Inoculant 11CFT

If planting is delayed by moisture and conditions remain wet through the pre-silk stages, we can expect less-than-ideal fiber digestibility. Pioneer® brand inoculant 11CFT offers a way to improve corn silage quality. It helps improve the digestibility of corn silage by breaking lignin and cellulose/hemi-cellulose bonds during fermentation. This helps release more energy from the feed, driving improved feed efficiencies.

Using 11CFT inoculant with a non-BMR corn hybrid helps achieve higher yield potential from late-planted forages while improving feed efficiency.

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