One outcome of this summer’s widespread drought is a plethora of corn acres destined for silage. If you’re in the market to purchase some of that feed, University of Nebraska Extension educator Robert Tigner offers suggestions for arriving at a fair price.

He says that unless it is severely damaged by drought, low-yielding corn has about the same silage feeding value as normal corn. However, dry-matter yields will be less. 

As a rule of thumb, a ton of as-fed corn silage is worth five to six times the price of a bushel of corn, or nine to 10 times the price of a bushel of corn if harvest and delivery are included. Another rough rule of thumb is that standing corn is worth about one-third of the price per acre of alfalfa hay.

Measuring total weight of corn silage can be accomplished by:

  • Running the silage across a scale.
  • Calculating the total volume of the corn silage and multiplying by a silage density factor.  However, these “book” values were developed for normal corn silage, and density of drought-damaged corn silage will differ.
  • Leaving random areas unharvested, then cutting those acres separately and weighing them.  That tonnage then can be extrapolated to determine tonnage per acre.

 Another useful pricing tool is a spreadsheet developed at the University of Wisconsin, which can accommodate for harvest costs and feeding value discount, and will calculate price on either an as-fed or dry-matter basis.

Tigner advises that it is critical that silage value is agreed upon by both buyer and seller before chopping begins.

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