Corn Silage Harvest Timing

July 1, 2013 05:33 AM

Source: DuPont Pioneer

Corn silage needs to be ensiled at the correct moisture level for proper fermentation and long-term storage preservation. It also needs to be harvested at the right time to produce high-quality forage for top livestock performance.

DuPont Pioneer experts recommend the following tips for determining the correct time to start corn silage harvest:

1. Note silking date of your fields. Silking date is the first indicator for estimating the date of silage harvest. The dent (R5) stage occurs 35 to 40 days after silking. Kernel development occurs when grain fill requires approximately 900 GDUs over a 40- to 45-day period for the crop to mature to one-half milkline for silage harvest. This period is fairly consistent among corn hybrids regardless of maturity. When corn kernels start showing dent, it's time to walk fields and take samples.

2. Assess kernel milkline levels. Start walking fields to assess kernel milkline levels about four weeks after silking. One-third milkline represents 68 to 72 percent moisture, while two-thirds milkline represents 63 to 68 percent moisture. If you allow crops to reach 63 percent moisture in the field, they have the opportunity to maximize starch and tonnage yields. Modern hybrids with strong agronomics also tend to retain fiber digestibility within a 63 to 70 percent moisture range.

3. Send in samples to a lab. Comparing a chipper-shredder lab sample to your own silage samples helps build the data needed to make informed harvest decisions for next year.

For more information on corn silage harvest timing, or visit or contact your local DuPont Pioneer dairy specialist or livestock information manager.

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