For top silage, know the score

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If you harvest corn for silage, Pioneer can help you choose corn hybrids to fit the conditions and situations that occur on your operation.

Pioneer corn researchers have been evaluating the silage suitability of hybrids for more than two decades, says Robin Newell, forage products business manager for Pioneer.

“We assign all Pioneer® brand commercial corn hybrids accurate scores for silage traits based on data from multiple years and multiple growing locations,” he says.

 

Key silage traits

“Pioneer provides ratings, or scores, for many key traits that corn growers use to make decisions about placing and managing the hybrids they choose,” Newell explains. “All hybrids receive scores for nutritionally related traits, agronomic traits, grain traits and more. The primary silage trait scores include neutral detergent fiber digestibility (NDFD), starch content and silage yield.”

Pioneer assigns these silage trait scores to each hybrid using silage yield and quality data gathered during silage harvest, Newell reports.

Yield scores are based on moisture-adjusted silage yield. Pioneer measures NDFD and starch content scores two ways: with on-board chopper NIRS (Near Infrared Spectrometry) and with in-house laboratory methods.

“From all this data, Pioneer researchers then are able to determine relative hybrids comparisons by calculating milk per ton and milk per acre using the University of Wisconsin’s MILK2006 Model,” Newell says. “We use this data to assign the trait scores to individual hybrids. Pioneer researchers also collect maturity data and assign silage trait scores for silage relative maturity.”

Two-pronged approach

Pioneer uses the following two-pronged approach to develop and advance corn hybrids for silage, explains Newell.

Pioneer conducts a silage breeding program to bring direct focus on key silage traits. Nine of the Pioneer corn breeding stations in North America include corn breeders who work on developing and testing hybrids for silage. Their breeding efforts focus on increasing silage yields, whole-plant digestibility and pounds of milk or beef per acre.

In addition, Pioneer characterizes all commercial and pre-commercial corn hybrids for the key silage traits. “Many silage growers still want the flexibility to choose whether to harvest some fields for grain or for silage,” Newell notes. “They appreciate our silage trait ratings because this information provides them more options when deciding how they will manage and use the hybrids they grow.”

Pioneer silage research harvesters sport unique, proprietary NIRS systems for rapid screening of inbreds and hybrids. This helps silage breeders make better decisions about which lines to advance and offer to customers.

 



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