Effects of Hybrid Type, Stage of Maturity, and Fermentation Length on Whole Plant Corn Silage Quality


Abstract: Two corn hybrids (conventional: CON; silage: SIL) were harvested at early dent (ED), 1/2 milkline (1/2 ML), and black layer (BL) stages of maturity for testing the effects of hybrid, stage of maturity, and length of fermentation on corn silage quality. Tested parameters were pH, DM, CP, and ruminal in situ DM disappearance (ISDMD), respectively. Longer fermentation length caused lower silage pH at 8 (3.97) and 16 (3.93) weeks. While CP content tended to increase with longer fermentation length, it tended to decrease with increasing maturity stage (ED: 8.0%; BL: 7.2%). In situ DM disappearance was 4% higher for the SIL hybrid compared to CON hybrid (40.1% vs. 36.2%). Higher ISDMD was observed for ED (48.4%) and 1/2 ML (42.8%) maturity stages compared to the BL maturity stage (23.5%). In conclusion, similar chemical composition, but higher ISDMD favored the SIL hybrid over CON hybrid. Based on chemical composition and ISDMD, the optimum harvesting stage in whole plant corn silage should be between ED and 1/2 ML. In addition, for optimal pH, fermentation length should be between 8 and 16 weeks in whole plant corn silage.

Keywords: Hybrid, corn silage, stage of maturity, digestibility

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