MasterGraze fills late-summer void
Eli Weaver, Jr., knew he would run out of corn silage before this year’s crop came in. So he planted a different type of corn in early June, then harvested nearly 20 tons/acre of high-quality bale silage 60 days later.
When the substitute silage replaced conventional corn silage in his milking ration, production held steady.
“You’d have never known I changed anything,” says the Leola, PA, dairyman.
Weaver grew MasterGraze, a tillering brown midrib (BMR) forage corn from Masters Choice, Inc., Anna, IL. The crop doesn’t produce fully developed ears, but each plant has multiple stalks said to be high in sugars and very digestible. When harvested just before tasselling, it tests around 12% crude protein, but feeds better than that, says Vic Lutz, a Cincinnatus, NY, dairy nutritionist.
“We actually put it in rations at 16% protein because it’s so digestible,” according to Lutz.
Developed primarily as a pasture crop, MasterGraze is usually grazed in midsummer when cool-season grasses are unproductive, reports Dave Wilson. He’s a research agronomist with King’s Agriseeds, Ronks, PA, a Masters Choice distributor. Chopping it daily and feeding it as greenchop also works well, especially if plantings are staggered, Wilson adds.
But harvesting it for silage can be challenging, says Lutz. At optimum maturity, MasterGraze is too wet to chop direct. If left standing until it reaches full maturity and dries down, the low-lignin crop lodges, he says.
It can be baled or chopped after drying to silage moisture levels in windrows, but heavy haying equipment is needed, and the big windrows dry slowly.
“If you did a hay crop, you’d be dealing with maybe 6 or 7 tons per acre of wet material,” Lutz points out. “When you mow this stuff, you’re looking at three times the wet material.”
He says some farmers quit growing the crop due to harvesting issues. “They were unhappy trying to handle it, but they were not unhappy trying to feed it.”
(Source – http://www.farms.com/news/tillering-bmr-corn-can-substitute-for-silage-85064.aspx)