The quality and quantity of the corn silage crop put away in the fall can chart the operation’s feeding success for an entire year.

University of Vermont Extension agronomist Daniel Hudson provides the following tips for making excellent corn silage:

  • On warm, dry, breezy fall days, whole plant moisture can drop up to 2% per day.  If you have not done so already, check the maturity and moisture level of your corn. Aim to harvest within the 30-35% dry-matter window.
  • If you have a bumper crop, consider chopping higher for a higher energy corn silage product that can help you reduce your feed bill.
  • Depending on whether you have a kernel processor, keeping the theoretical length of cut between 3/8” (without processing) and 3/4” (with processing).
  • Keep in mind all the ways “shrink” happens on the farm and take steps to minimize losses.
  • When packing, don’t hurry, and make sure you have enough tractor weight to get the job done well: total tractor weight (for all continuously packing tractors) divided by 800 equals the number of wet tons you can pack per hour.
  • Oxygen exclusion will be maximized when: plastic is thicker; multiple layers are used; an oxygen barrier is included; and if the covering is adequately weighed down (tires should be touching).

Hudson says once the corn crop is at its ideal maturity for harvest, the quality maximum is established, and it only goes down from there. He says doing many little things right to avoid shrink and spoilage, while optimizing processing and storage, can yield big rewards. Read more of Hudson’s silage-making advice.