Optimal Growth Stage for Putting Up Quality Corn Silage
Timing of your corn silage harvest is critical to maintain high quality feed and assure proper ensiling of that feed.
The optimal moisture range to create good ensilage is between 65-70% when putting it in a bunker. So the question is at what growth stage does corn reach 65-70% moisture? It can depend on the hybrid and the Relative Maturity of the hybrid, but typically corn reaches that moisture level somewhere around ½ to ¾ Milk Line on the kernels.
We want to avoid starting harvest too early as the extra moisture is just wasted water and the plant did not get the chance to pack as much starch into the grain as it could. Reaching optimal moisture levels can vary by the health of the crop. If your crop is still very healthy, waiting till corn nears ¾ Milk Line will allow the crop to pack even more starch into the kernel. If the crop is under stress, you may need to look at harvesting closer to ¼ to 1/3 Milk Line on the kernel. Monitoring growth stages during this critical time is important to make sure you choose the proper harvest date to achieve the highest yield and quality.
If you would like our help managing your silage harvest dates, do not hesitate to get a hold of your local Crop Quest Agronomist