In many regions, corn silage harvest is delayed by weeks, which forces producers to make a decision: Harvest wet, immature corn or delay and take a risk on the weather.
“Producers may have to get their crop in when they can,” says Bob Charley, Ph.D., Forage Products Management, Lallemand Animal Nutrition. “Delay may risk running up against wetter fall weather, making the ground too wet. Harvesting at the right stage of maturity is the over-riding factor in producing high-quality silage, but Mother Nature doesn’t always provide the perfect window of opportunity.”
When harvesting low dry matter (DM) corn, Dr. Charley recommends adding a research-proven silage inoculant to reduce losses and increase digestibility.
For crops below 30 percent DM (or above 70 percent moisture), a research-proven homolactic lactic acid bacteria (LAB) inoculant containing strains like Pediococcus pentosaceus 12455 can help achieve a fast front-end fermentation. P. pentosaceus 12455 can be found in Biotal® Plus II, which has been shown to provide an 18 percent higher DM recovery compared to controls in independent trials.1
For immature crops harvested above 30 percent DM, producers should consider a combination inoculant like those containing homolactic LAB strains plus selected heterofermentative strains proven to benefit silage management. For example, Biotal Buchneri 500 combines both P. pentosaceus 12455 and Lactobacillus buchneri 40788 to drive an efficient front-end fermentation and reduce heating and spoilage caused by yeasts and molds. In fact, L. buchneri 40788 applied at 400,000 CFU per gram of silage or 600,000 CFU per gram of high-moisture corn (HMC), has been uniquely reviewed by the FDA for improved aerobic stability.
Dr. Charley also advises producers harvesting immature corn for silage to forgo further processing when the crop is below 30 percent DM.
“There is no benefit to processing wet corn silage. It requires extra input costs and takes a toll on equipment unnecessarily. In fact, processing at high moisture levels can increase the risk of silage runoff,” Dr. Charley says. “With these changes, producers can still create high-quality silage even when harvest options aren’t perfect.”
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1 Data on file. Lallemand Animal Nutrition Kansas State University silage study.