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Hybrid Selection For Silage

Corn hybrid selection is one of the most important management decisions in silage production. To reduce risk, seed selection should be based on information from multiple sources including universities, seed companies, and on-farm strip trials. A hybrid should be well adapted to your area because if it doesn’t grow well, it won’t be of much value.

T-J Strachota is the marketing leader for Dairyland Seed. He says dairy farmers want tonnage from a high-yielding variety, but it also has to have good digestibility.

"That’s one of the key metrics that nutritionists are out there looking for," he says. "We have to work with the crop guy on that local dairy to figure out what they need from agronomics on a corn hybrid. We also have to work with a nutritionist to see how they can balance the ration making good silage. It’s got to be digestible. We’re looking for kind of that overall milk-per-acre approach."

Maturity is another key in hybrid selection. Longer-season hybrids typically have higher silage yields. A general guideline is that hybrids planted for silage should be five-to-ten-days longer in relative maturity than the hybrids planted for grain.

"On the silage side, we tend to go with taller genetics so the agronomics may not be as strong if you leave it out there till grain, so that’s why people get out there and harvest it a little bit earlier for silage," says Strachota. "But as far as traits, we have everything from conventional stuff, Roundup, Smartstax hybrids, all the traits that apply in grain corn carry over into our high NDF lineup as well."

Other important agronomic considerations include early season vigor, and tolerance to drought and disease.

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