Spring tips for optimizing your silage production this year

350

On March 26, Maizex hosted a webinar with Professor Joe Lauer of the University of Wisconsin (available here until April 30). One of the key takeaways from the discussion was to make sure you are optimizing your plant population to maximize both your corn silage yield and milk production.

Below is a graph that Professor Lauer presented that shows the Wisconsin results from his population studies on grain yield, net ROI on grain yield (AGI), forage yield, milk per ton and milk per acre.

Overall, Lauer’s data strongly suggests silage producers should be planting at higher densities in their fields. We suggest you do some trials in your fields this year to evaluate the effect of higher populations. We also recommend planting one or a few passes with your planter at a population 10% higher than your normal average population. This would lower the risk of lodging or other detrimental side effects, while learning more about the performance of your fields and hybrids.

Field layout with population trial:

Maizex silage research

Every year, Maizex continues to evaluate our silage hybrids and how best to manage them. Our data differs slightly from Professor Lauer’s with respect to our hybrid responses to population. We tend to see increases in milk yield per acre as we increase populations and management; however, the increases are modest. The other thing to note is that different hybrids will have different optimum planting populations. Targeting the ideal population for your specific silage hybrid would be the first place to look this spring. If you grow Maizex corn and would like to see what range your hybrid’s recommended final stand should be, please refer to our 2024 seed guide. Remember that you should plant approximately 5% more seed than the targeted final populations to account for planting conditions, germination rates and seedling mortality.

Elora Ontario Intensive Management 2023 Results:

Standard: 30,000 final stand, 150lbs N, No fungicide
Intensive: 32,000 final stand, 200lbs N, Delaro pro + Proline at VT
Ultra Intensive: 35,000 final stand, 200lbs N, Megafol+ K20S @ V8, Delaro pro+ Proline top-up at VT and Veltyma sprayed 14 days after VT

Things to consider when adjusting planting populations

  • Seeding rate does not result in the same final plant population
  • Substantially higher seeding rates can lead to increased lodging potential
  • Increased populations lead to longer husk cover
  • Lower plant populations tend to have better feed quality and fiber digestibility
  • Higher plant populations tend to have higher yield potential
  • Decrease seeding rates for marginal soils, low-yield environments and droughty areas
  • Increase seeding rates for productive soils, high-yield environments and deep soils
  • Dual-purpose hybrids will respond better to higher populations
  • Silage-specific hybrids will optimise their yields at a lower seeding rate
  • Poor planting conditions will lead to higher seedling attrition than normal
  • Higher populations tend to respond better to fungicide applications

_____

Adam Parker, CCA-ON

Market Development Agronomist & Forages Lead

Maizex Seeds