December 30, 2019
The corn silage hybrids you select this winter will have a major impact on your farm’s profitability in 2021.
“Purchasing seed for silage and feed is one of the most important decisions of the year, with consequences felt all year long,” says Mark Kirk, Rock River Laboratory business development and customer relations manager. Rock River Laboratory is headquartered in Watertown, Wis. with labs in Wisconsin, Ohio, New York and California.
“Starting with the endpoint is essential to getting the right seed from the right company,” he says. “Be ready to explain to a seed representative exactly what [your] goals are.”
The first question to ask is whether a recommended hybrid was developed as a silage or grain variety. Few companies specialize in developing high-quality, corn silage-specific hybrids. “Unfortunately, most seed companies breed and develop hybrids for corn yield and agronomics only. Then they may or may not test for silage quality.
“Just because a corn hybrid is tall and has high ear placement doesn’t make it a silage hybrid,” Kirk says. “It might have good silage yields but not the best nutritional values.” The same can be said for varieties with high starch values.
For silage varieties, you want to talk about fiber and starch digestibility and milk making potential, he says. Also ask for supporting data. Make sure the data seed companies offer is over several seasons and see how the variety ranks within plots.
While price of seed is important, it shouldn’t be the only decision maker. “Cheap seed can also cost you more in the end,” Kirk says. “Work with experienced seed advisors and a nutritionist to evaluate cost based upon the digestible tons per acre as well as the cost per digestible ton, with the information at hand.
“Adding your nutritionist, agronomist, herdsman and even the bookkeeper to this important meeting can help bring new perspectives and questions previously not considered,” he says.