7 Silage Harvest Tips – Key Factors For Successful Corn Silage

Dairy and beef producers across the country are expressing concerns about corn plant health and development setting the stage for silage challenges for the 2019-2020 feeding year. A review of the challenges and solutions can aid producers in developing corn silage strategies.

Chopping corn silage

1. Healthy Corn Plants = High quality corn silage
The healthier the corn plants selected for silage, the greater the sugar content to foster proper fermentation, and the higher the starch content for energy level. Reduction in plant health increases yeast and mold levels.

2. Whole Plant Moisture: Kernel milk-line is less related to whole plant moisture
Kernel development and whole plant moisture are not closely related for today’s corn hybrids. The whole plant moisture is 62-68%. Sugar content declines as corn plants mature and dry down, and plants drier than 65% moisture become difficult to pack unless length of chop is reduced. Corn hybrids differ in their rate of dry-down.

3. Chopping and Kernel Processing: Only one chance to chop and kernel process
Continually monitor chop length and processing to make adjustments as plant moisture and kernel hardness changes. The theoretical length of chop (TLC) for 60-65% moisture corn silage is ¾” for conventional and 1” for shredlage. Kernel processing can be monitored by placing 3 handfuls of fresh chopped corn forage in a 5-gallon pail of water, swirl, allow to settle for 2-3 minutes, then pour off water and forage to evaluate kernels in bottom of bucket.

4. Select an Inoculant Based on Corn Silage Challenges
The Landmark Forage Solutions inoculants are especially formulated for a producer’s goals

For pH reduction to stop plant respiration and save DM and energy:
Select Forage SOLUTIONS CS 100 WS (100,000 CFU/g forage)
Select Forage SOLUTION Corn Silage WS (150,000 CFU/g forage)
For yeast and mold control: Select Forage SOLUTIONS LB WS
High level of lactic acid bacteria to save DM and energy (200,000 CFU/g)
High level of L. buchneri to stop yeasts/molds (300,000 CFU/g forage)

The Forage Solutions inoculants feature a moisture scavenger, a buffer and chlorine binder.

5. Pack, Pack, and then Pack Some More: Oxygen is the enemy to high-quality silage
Proper silage packing is key for excluding oxygen to reduce plant self-metabolism and to lower yeast and mold growth. Silage should not be packed in layers greater than 6”. Research indicates that packing weight should be at least 800 lb. packing weight per ton of silage delivered per hour. For example: 800 lb. X 100 ton/hr. = 80,000 lb. packing weight

6. Cover-up silage quickly: Oxygen is the enemy to high-quality silage
Corn silage should be quickly covered with high quality plastic to reduce oxygen penetration, fostering yeast and mold growth. Contact your Landmark representative for your plastic needs.

7. First in importance but last on the list – Send Everyone Home Safely: Safety is more important than reducing shrink or yeast/mold