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Corn silage trial results and criteria for hybrid selection

by Jeff Coulter, Extension Corn Agronomist

Few agronomic decisions for corn silage production are as important as hybrid selection. Results from the 2015 University of Minnesota corn silage performance trials are available at:

When selecting hybrids, it is best to choose those that perform well over multiple locations in a region. Consistent performance over multiple locations with different soil and weather conditions is critical because next year’s growing conditions are uncertain.

Consider trial results from multiple sources, including universities, grower associations, seed companies, and on-farm strip trials. Click on the links below for silage results from other corn trials:

University of Minnesota (2014 and earlier)
University of Wisconsin

Considerations for Corn Silage Hybrid Selection

  • Longer-season hybrids tend to have higher silage yields. Hybrids planted for silage should generally be 5 to 10 days longer in relative maturity (RM) than hybrids planted for grain. However, these later-maturing hybrids may not be the best choice for a producer wanting early silage or the option to harvest the corn for grain.
  • Select multiple hybrids with a range in RM, as this widens the harvest window. Harvesting at the correct moisture level is critical for producing high quality silage, and if missed, can negate the benefits of good hybrid selection. The importance of widening the harvest window is seen in years when corn dries rapidly under dry late-season conditions. Planting hybrids with a range in maturity also widens the pollination window, thereby reducing the risk that one’s entire crop will experience hot and dry conditions during pollination.
  • Other important agronomic considerations when selecting silage hybrids include herbicide and insect tolerance for the given cropping system, and tolerance to drought and disease. Standability is less important for silage hybrids than grain hybrids due to the earlier time of harvest.
  • Since corn silage is an energy source for livestock performance, producers should consider both silage quality and yield when selecting hybrids. Milk per ton is an overall indication of silage quality, and is estimated from forage analyses for crude protein (CP), neutral detergent fiber (NDF), NDF digestibility (NDFD), starch, and non-fiber carbohydrate. Once a suitable group of hybrids has been identified based on milk per ton and yield, further selection within this group can be based on specific forage quality and agronomic traits. Consult with a livestock nutritionist during the silage hybrid selection process to ensure that the selected hybrids will have the necessary nutritional value for your herd.

Additional information on corn production from University of Minnesota Extension is available at
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