Step 1: Understand your local conditions
When selecting a silage hybrid, it’s critical to first understand the conditions in your area and on your fields. Narrow down hybrids to choices that fit your soil type, weather conditions and maturity range. And remember – silage hybrids should be about five to ten relative maturity days higher than grain hybrids in your area.
Corn maturity is driven by temperature, specifically the daily maximum and minimum temperatures. Corn Heat Units (CHU) are used to determine how much heat accumulates in a given area. Corn hybrids are rated on the amount of CHUs is required to reach physiological maturity. When selecting a hybrid for silage, it is recommended to grow a hybrid that is 100-200 CHU’s more than your growing area to maximize yield potential.
Step 2: Dial-in nutrition
We’re seed specialists, not nutritionists, so we recommend following up with a beef or dairy nutritionist to determine what’s most important in your feed ration. Some herds need to focus on protein, some need to focus on starch and some prioritize fiber and digestibility. It’ll be different for each herd. We’ll stick to providing the high quality hybrids, and let your nutritionist hone in the feed needs for your cattle.
Step 3: Evaluate hybrid characteristics
The first characteristic to evaluate is quality. Consider starch, neutral detergent fiber digestibility (NDFd) and milk per ton (follow up with your nutritionist for a specific plan for your herd). PRIDE Seeds evaluates silage hybrids for fiber digestibility, net energy lactation, adjusted yield (65%), milk per ton, milk per acre, starch and NDFd. Keep in mind that a hybrid with excellent yield, might not be the hybrid with the best silage quality. All these areas of quality are generally summed up in the milk per ton rating.
The measurement of quality and tonnage per acre is milk per acre, which is important to evaluate when choosing a hybrid that brings both high tonnage and high quality. Historically, if a hybrid was good for grain, it would be good for silage. However, this trend is being broken today with the development of new and unique hybrids that have an upright stature and boast highly digestible fiber content (Effective Digestible Fibre (EDF) hybrids). When comparing hybrids, it is important to look at each hybrid on an ‘even playing field’. To do this, yield is adjusted generally to 65% moisture, so all hybrids can be compared evenly.
Solid agronomic characteristics are the last component to finding a silage hybrid with consistent performance. A corn crop with good health will help keep silage quality high when it’s stored. If the plant is damaged or injured from disease, pests or weather, mycotoxins can develop in the grain throughout the season resulting in poor quality silage. Applying a fungicide can also help maintain quality in your silage, as early plant death can make silage too dry for fermentation.
Total Ration Solutions (TRS) Evaluation System
PRIDE Seeds has developed the Total Ration Solutions (TRS) System to evaluate our corn silage hybrid products. This system goes beyond hybrid appearance in the field and considers what matters most to growers at harvest: yield, energy, digestibility, palatability, and overall nutritional value.
To not only understand but to ensure we are meeting producers needs through Total Ration Solutions, PRIDE Seeds has established one of the largest on-farm corn silage testing programs in Western Canada to evaluate the yield and feed quality of PRIDE Seed and competitor silage hybrids.
The TRS system from PRIDE Seeds has branded two types of products for corn silage growers: Effective Digestible Fibre (EDF) and Effective Dual Purpose (EDP) hybrids.
Effective Digestible Fibre (EDF) hybrids offer the advantage of high digestibility and palatability for improved feeding efficiency. These EDF hybrids can also be called Silage-Specific hybrids, as they have been bred with a unique set of characteristics for corn silage production.
Unique characteristics of a EDF hybrids:
Identifying EDF/ Silage Specific Hybrids
Effective Dual Purpose (EDP) hybrids tend to have higher energy and silage quality compared to an EDF product, as well as it has the flexibility to be used as a grain or a high moisture hybrid depending on operational needs. These hybrids have been bred for grain production, but through the TRS evaluation system, these hybrids also make a good corn silage hybrid. EDF hybrids can also be called dual-purpose hybrids.
Characteristics of EDP Hybrids
Identifying EDP/ Dual Purpose Hybrids
Create your customized plan There are plenty of choices when it comes to finding the right silage hybrid for your farm. Use these steps, or reach out to your local PRIDE Seeds rep, to build a customized silage plan for your farm.