There are several myths and misperceptions associated with growing and feeding brown midrib corn silage.
Art Graves, customer agronomist with Mycogen Seeds, works closely with dairy producers in the eastern United States to help them increase yields and utilize BMR corn silage properly. During a recent webinar on high forage rations and BMR corn silage, Graves shared some of the questions he asks when troubleshooting challenges associated with BMR corn silage yields and performance.
- Did you reduce the grain in the ration? (i.e., was the ration too hot?) You can typically feed less corn grain because the fiber in BMR corn silage is more digestible than conventional hybrids.
- What hybrids did you use? "We’re on the fifth generation of BMR hybrids," Graves said. What you see in the field today is a lot different than the hybrids that were first commercialized.
- What crop did the BMR follow? You will have more success growing BMR when it follows a hay crop or fields with higher organic matter, such as soybean fields.
- What population was used? "Initially when BMR was brought to market we were recommending high populations because we had short hybrids and we needed to plant lots of plants per acre to get them to yield," Graves said. "Nowadays we have larger hybrids that are more robust and we can plant them a little bit more moderately to allow them to stand and still bring yield."
- What did you compare your yields to - small plots or field trial data? BMR hybrids have historically been shorter in height so they don’t do well in small plots. "The data will show a little bit less yields in a small plot vs. a field trial," Graves said.
- Did you get a weight? There can be a big difference in what you see from the chopper vs. what a load actually weighs. "Most farmers who weigh their trucks will say a BMR truck will yield 10-15 percent more than a conventional corn silage at the same moisture," Graves said.
- Did you adjust for the dry matter of the BMR?
- What maturity did you grow? Make sure you are growing hybrids that are a good fit with your geographic region. "I would recommend contacting someone local who’s a BMR expert to help you out with the agronomics and managing it for your geography."
The webinar was presented by Dairy Herd Management. It also featured presentations by Mike Allen, dairy nutritionist from Michigan State University, and John Koepke, of Koepke Farms, Oconomowoc, Wis.