Making an informed corn hybrid choice this winter is the first step toward maximizing the feeding value of your corn silage you harvest next fall. It’s important to realize that all corn hybrids are not created equal when it comes to silage production, says Jon Erickson, customer agronomist for Mycogen Seeds.

“First and foremost, be sure to select a corn hybrid that is bred and tested specifically for silage production rather than grain yield,” says Erickson.

To maximize feed value and milk per acre, Erickson offers the following recommendations when selecting silage corn hybrids:

  • Choose a hybrid with high neutral detergent fiber digestibility (NDFD) to enhance dry matter intake. Highly digestible corn silage can allow producers to feed more forage and less supplemental grain.
  • Look for a hybrid with a high tonnage yield, but don’t sacrifice digestibility. High tonnage won’t be of much benefit if the corn silage has low feed value and intake is limited by poor digestibility.
  • A softer, less vitreous kernel is preferred for corn silage production, resulting in better starch digestibility, greater energy content and higher milk production.
  • Look for uniform plant drydown from the ear to the stalk. This will ensure consistent moisture levels at harvest.
  • Plant a hybrid with the proper maturity, based on your anticipated harvest date. Consult with your agronomist or seed supplier for recommended maturities.
  • Select insect protection traits appropriate to the insect pressure in your area. It’s important to prevent leaf insect damage since leaves contribute to overall silage quality and tonnage.
  • Do your research. Consult independent performance data before making a purchase.
  • Consider online resources to help you evaluate silage corn hybrids, including Milk2006 from the University of Wisconsin or Michigan State University’s CornPicker. Follow the link below to access these resources.