Selecting Corn Silage Hybrid Maturities
May 12, 2005 12(10):69
Dan Undersander and Joe Lauer
Forage and Corn Agronomists
Farmers selecting corn hybrids for silage should first consider planting the latest
relative maturity of corn that will reach harvest maturity by frost. Higher yields
are produced with hybrids that mature slightly later than those adapted for grain
production â€“ perhaps 5 to 10 relative maturity units later. These hybrids will result
in the highest yield of high quality forage.
When planting is delayed beyond May 20, earlier maturity hybrids should be planted
to reach harvest maturity by frost.
However there comes a point (about June 1 in northern Wisconsin and June 20 in southern
Wisconsin) where planting is delayed to the extent that even shorter maturity hybrids
will not reach harvest maturity by frost. At this point it is preferable to plant
later maturity hybrids so they reach pollination at frost, and then allow drying
after frost to get the hybrid to low enough moisture content for ensiling.
The recommendation to switch back to later maturity hybrids for late planted corn
silage is made because corn has two peaks in forage quality: one at pollination
and one at harvest maturity. The early peak in forage quality at pollination is
high in quality but too wet for ensiling unless frost can dry the corn down. For
late planted corn, aiming for a hybrid that will be at pollination at frost becomes
a better choice than planting a short season hybrid that will not reach harvest