The year 2010 was marked by favorable weather and higher yields in corn silage crops across the United States. Customers who submitted samples to Rock River Laboratory's main office in Watertown, Wis., noticed differences in corn silage characteristics.

"Very early on, when producers started harvesting the 2010 crop, we started getting a lot of phone calls from nutritionists regarding starch levels," said Zachery Meyer, senior client operations and new business manager at Rock River Laboratory.

In more than 7,600 corn silage samples analyzed in 2010, starch levels averaged 35.22, compared to 33.14 on 7,400 samples in a wet 2009. NDF values shifted from a high of 42.74 in 2009 to a three-year low of 41.33 in 2010. Other variables remained relatively unchanged. Crude protein experienced a slight uptick from 2009 numbers and lignin essentially mirrored the previous crop.

"Nutritionists are literally our ears to the industry," said Meyer. "Based on the comments we had from our customers regarding the 2010 crop, we expected to see these values in our statistical comparisons."