Silage Hybrid Selection

Selection of Corn for Silage needs to consider agronomic (yield, stress tolerance) performance and forage quality characteristics. Hybrid performance may vary considerably among fields and farms, but relative differences are fairly consistent from year to year. As a result, yield monitors have proven to be an economic investment for the purpose of on-farm hybrid yield comparisons. Among conventional hybrids, growing conditions have a significant impact on forage quality, therefore it is important to understand the weather conditions in which a hybrid was grown when evaluating forage quality performance.

Corn Silage Hybrid Evaluation Program 

Please note the following points when using the corn silage hybrid evaluation data. The hybrids are listed in order of their relative maturity. Each hybrid is planted at three locations with three replicates per location. The test locations were in western NY (Genesee/Orleans County), northern NY (St. Lawrence and Essex Counties), Finger Lakes Region (Cayuga County) and northwest Vermont (Grand Isle County). Each hybrid is placed at three locations based on its relative maturity (RM), with 80-95 day RM hybrids planted in western and northern NY and northwest Vermont and 96-110 day RM hybrids planted in the Finger Lakes region and northern NY and northwest Vermont.

Target whole plant dry matter at harvest was 35% to ensure that each hybrid was close to optimal forage quality at harvest. A 500-gram sample at harvest was used to estimate dry matter percent and to determine quality characteristics [crude protein, starch, lignin, ash, total fatty acids, ash corrected neutral detergent fiber (aNDFom), neutral detergent fiber digestibility (at 30, 120, and 240 hr), and undigested NDF (uNDFom, 240 hr)].

Corn silage hybrid performance was evaluated by the predicted milk production output of the Cornell Net Carbohydrate and Protein System (CNCPS; Cornell University, Ithaca, NY).  This novel approach to hybrid evaluation allows us to account for differences in Dry Matter Intake (DMI) potential of the total ration based upon hybrid selection and is a more biologically robust representation compared to evaluating hybrids on a constant DMI basis. The predictions made by the CNCPS were used to evaluate differences in feed intake potential and subsequent predicted allowable milk yield based upon the nutrient and digestibility characteristics of each hybrid.