We’re seeing a growing interest in estimating corn silage processing scores (CSPS) while chopping –instead of after the fact – so that we can make appropriate adjustments in the field. Some of this growing interest is also due to higher commodity prices, as well as different processors needing to be evaluated.
CSPS measures kernel processing based on particle size. Research has shown that increasing CSPS correlates with increased starch digestibility, decreased fecal starch and higher milk production. In other words, when the starch in the kernel is more accessible to the cow, she can make the most of the feed.
A CSPS greater than 70% indicates “optimal processing.” A CSPS between 50% and 70% represents corn that is “adequately processed” and a CSPS below 50% represents corn that is “inadequately processed.”
Many factors may affect the CSPS results, such as “green” samples vs. fermented samples, how samples are gathered, and physical plant characteristics. Bottom line: Depending on one sample to evaluate your overall processing may not necessarily give you an accurate picture of your processing.
In an attempt to develop a field measurement of CSPS, industry researchers have developed a system to evaluate samples collected in 32-ounce containers (such as large beverage containers from fast food restaurants) for CSPS. The industry goal is currently to find two or fewer whole and half kernels in the 32-ounce container.
Last year, some Vita Plus employee owners sought to develop a method to help with the evaluation of the “in-field” CSPS measures. These researchers collected samples and compared laboratory CSPS to field estimates that came from counting the kernels in a 32-ounce container. The results indicated that only two of 27 samples were “optimally processed,” reflecting a need for a system to encourage better processing.
Importantly, this survey showed that the “32-ounce cup system” was only accurate for freshly chopped forages, not silages. The results from the evaluation supported the findings of other industry partners: A 32-ounce container sample can be used for a quick evaluation of CSPS. To be on the higher end of “adequately processed,” the sample should have fewer than three whole and half kernels in a 32-ounce cup of freshly chopped corn silage.
These tools help us get a good “up-close” view of the crop before it is completed and make adjustments on the fly. We all know that, when harvest comes, we rarely have time to pause and evaluate the crop. A good knowledge of quick on-the-go measures is essential to keep operations moving smoothly.