Growing and producing a high-quality corn silage crop starts now.
“With feed costs close to 60% of a dairy operation’s budget, the choices a producer makes now will not only impact the upcoming growing season but also profitability down the road,” says Jon Erickson, Mycogen Seeds commercial agronomist.
Erickson offers the following tips for producers to get a strong start for 2018 and beyond.
- Assess how the 2017 crop performed. Producers can use results from silage testing and milk records to determine if last year’s seed selection was the right fit for the operation and review how in-season management may have played a role in its quality. Producers can find opportunities for improvement in the field in 2018.
- Explore innovations. This time of year, there are plenty of conferences, trade shows and meetings happening across the country during which experts share new research within the agriculture and dairy industry. These opportunities give producers a chance to take time away from the farm to gain information about the latest management options for the farm.
- Build a planting plan. Choosing the right corn silage hybrids is only one part of producing high-quality silage. Now is the time for producers to consult their agronomist and field team to determine where to place those hybrids and at what populations. For highly digestible corn silage hybrids, a plant population between 32,000 and 34,000 seeds per acre is generally a good fit.
- Plan for extra silage supply. It also is important for producers to consult their nutritionist to determine the acreage and yield needed to produce enough corn silage for the year, as well as their risk management strategy. Planning can protect the herd’s nutrition plan if unfavorable weather causes low yield or a low-quality corn silage. The extra supply also can help producers transition into new corn silage after fermentation — this helps reduce fluctuations in production and performance when switching to new forages.
- Determine a crop management plan. It is never too early to start mapping out crop management needs by analyzing soil samples and field fertility, by reflecting on what happened last year and by determining how to combat common in-season weeds, pests and diseases.
Source: Mycogen Seeds