RealAg LIVE! with Alana Serhan on maximizing silage tonnage

It’s Monday, and we’re talking agronomy!

Today’s episode of RealAg LIVE! features Alana Serhan, market development agronomist with PRIDE Seeds. Host Shaun Haney and Serhan discuss how to maximize corn silage yield through agronomic practices, and ultimately, how to get the best return on investment.

RealAg LIVE! streams every weekday at 3 pm E on Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter!


  • Silage versus grain corn hybrid selection
    • Some of the largest things we need to consider are looking at the operation : quality versus quantity
    • A dairy silage would be likely different than what a feedlot is looking at
    • Grow two or three hybrids on farm — growing the same hybrid over and over can eventually work against you
    • What about in the case of grazing corn? It’s even more so important that we are using two or more hybrids in the field. Two to three minimum, make sure cobs don’t all reach maturity for grazing
    • Dual purpose hybrid?
  • How do you define whether the soil is “fit” or not?
    • A lot of preparation before you even hit the field
    • Soil temperature. And temperature trend
    • Cold chilling injury. Imbibitional chilling
    • That first drink of water needs to be a warm drink of water
    • Anything that is not 8-10 degrees celsius is NOT going to be helpful. Delayed emergence. Corkscrewing.
  • Seeding depth?
    • Inch and a half to two inches
    • If you get too shallow, your brace roots wont be able to do what they need y tickling
    • These silage plants can get so tall, so it’s so important to be able to have a good root anchor system
    • Deeper seeded corn often times does better than shallow seeded ones, despite what we may have been taught in the past
  • Rotation in silage production
    • Sometimes we maybe don’t have that rotation in the mix
    • We are seeing a lot of corn on corn on corn
    • Creates challenges — we get resistance, whether it be herbicide or disease
    • Being mindful of those practices will only help in the long run
  • Even emergence is key
    • We need all of our corn plants turning up with 48 hours of each other, or they become weeds
    • Corn is NOT competitive
    • Kicking off to a good start
  • Trash management
    • Those fancy trash whippers are not just there to look good!
    • We need those thigns working when there is trash in the way
    • Lightly tickling the surface when we have trash present, but be sure not to create a trench
  • Fertility
    • Livestock suppliers have an endless supply of manure, but manure isn’t always exactly what’s needed
    • Sometimes other fertilizer is needed
    • If we want to optimize our silage yields, we need to be getting our soils tested
    • Remember: every single field is different, and getting that baseline is crucial
    • Our soils in western Canada are often cool at planting, and starter fertilizer can really help it along.
  • Drought
    • If you aren’t growing under irrigation, silage can be tricky, and it’s drying out there
    • You can change plant populations, row spacing
    • Ultimately a silage field that has less corn plants in it, will need less water
    • If we can stay comfortable at a 30,000 population, that’s going to be ideal
  • Weed control
    • Early weed control: just because it’s silage, doesn’t mean it’s not important
    • Take control of the weeds early!
    • We’ll say it again: Corn is not a competitive plant.
    • What is in our manure as far as weed seed goes? Also important to know.
    • Whatever is in the corral, is now going to be in the field
    • Critical weed free period is between emergence and V4, but Serhan would prefer V6

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