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Silage

Plan your silage production from seed selection to harvest and packing the pile with tips from these ag professionals.

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The management of large-scale forage production systems presents many challenges that affect preservation of forage quality. The USDA estimated that in 2013 the amount of U.S. corn harvested as silage was 117,851,000 tons, with a conservative value of $7.5 billion.

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Bacteria, fungi and other very small life forms live all around us but are invisible to the naked eye. These microbes can be found virtually everywhere, including on plants, in soil and in the forage we put into silos. Microbiologists’ understanding of the powerful role of these microorganisms in silage fermentation is growing every day.

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Corn silage is commonly priced per ton standing in the field at seven to eight times the market price per bushel of corn.

Kristen Schulte, Iowa State University extension farm management field specialist, says selling the corn based on its grain value and exchanging the non-grain bio-mass for dairy manure produced on the buyer’s farm can be mutually beneficial to the buyer and the seller.

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Keep in mind that your end goal will determine most of your difficult decisions as you fine-tune a management plan this year for corn silage.

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Spoilage micro-organisms (yeasts, molds and aerobic bacteria), cause the biggest and most variable loss from silage during storage and feedout. Spoilage micro-organisms need oxygen to do their dirty work.

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I became an agronomist because I enjoy being outside, working with plants and mastering all of the details for growing a successful crop. As a customer agronomist for Mycogen Seeds, I consult with growers of silage corn, grain corn, soybean and alfalfa to help them achieve the most from their acres.

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