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Pioneer Hi-Bred Offers Tips to Maximize Feedstock Quality

Published on 9 September, 2008, Last updated at 04:22 GMT

Harvesting maturity and silage additives key to nutritional value

DES MOINES, Iowa.– Higher feed input costs are challenging livestock producers to maximize the efficiency of their feedstock supplies. Producers can reap economic benefits by evaluating corn maturity prior to chopping, say livestock nutrition experts from Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business.

Harvest maturity has a dramatic impact on the nutritional value of corn silage. Corn silage harvested at a later date shows increased starch value. Pioneer experts suggest that growers factor in the length of time to harvest the crop but aim for an average dry matter range of 35-38 percent.

“With the change in the price of feed, growers are continuously looking for ways to shave feed costs,” says Dr. Bill Mahanna, global nutritional sciences manager for Pioneer. “Growers have more options now with the latest corn hybrids containing technology traits that allow for much healthier plants later in the fall. They can wait until the corn is a bit more mature to capture more starch without significantly loosing fiber digestibility.”

Growers should monitor the moisture of the entire plant to determine the chopping time frame, recognizing that kernels will be maturing while the corn plant remains green and healthy.

If corn is still actively photosynthesizing, it is not unusual for the corn to lay down 0.5 to 1.0 points of starch per day until the kernel reaches physiological maturity (blacklayer). Pioneer sales professionals are partnering with silage producers to not only determine ideal harvest moisture but also whether to high-chop to improve fiber digestibility and how to monitor if kernel processing is adequate on the silage as it arrives at the storage structure.

Also top-of-mind for growers is both preserving and even enhancing silage quality.

“The goal is to harvest, preserve and feed as many of the nutrients produced in the field as possible,” says Mahanna. “Inoculants are a valuable tool for achieving this goal, and the best-performing inoculants work on both ‘front-end’ fermentation as well as preventing heating during ‘back-end’ feed-out.

“Pioneer products are unique because of the research effort to isolate crop-specific bacterial strains to enhance the feeding value of high-moisture corn, corn, silage and grass silages rather than an omnibus product intended for all crops,” says Mahanna.

Pioneer products contain proprietary strains of naturally-occurring lactic acid bacteria such as Lactobacillus buchneri, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus casei and Enterococcus faecium. L. buchneri promotes aerobic stability of the silage and keeps forage fresher for a longer period of time. The net result is that feed inoculated with L. buchneri, such as Pioneer® brand 11C33 or 11B91, inhibit yeast growth which can lead to excessive heating and nutrient loss often seen at feed-out in untreated silages.

“It’s now possible not only to preserve forage put into the silo, but also to make what comes out of the silo better than the day it was harvested,” says Dr. William Rutherford, senior research manager for Pioneer forage additives.

Pioneer’s newest forage additive, 11CFT, has shown a significant improvement in fiber (NDF) digestibility in extensive laboratory and on-farm testing. Like Pioneer’s other L. buchneri containing inoculants, 11CFT improves stability and bunklife from the production of unique silage volatile fatty acid profiles that inhibit yeast and aerobic bacterial populations. However, 11CFT also contains a unique strain of L. buchneri that is different from other Pioneer bacterial genetics. This particular strain offers growers increased fiber digestibility in corn silage as proven in two university silage studies reported at the 2008 American Dairy Science meetings.

Pioneer has the largest collection of lactic acid bacteria genetics in the industry. Extensive research, combined with proprietary bacteria, is what makes Pioneer inoculants important management tools in aiding and improving the nutritional value of silages.

Nutrition is important at Pioneer. Having a dedicated Livestock Nutrition Center, supportive labs throughout the world and more than 20 doctorate-level nutrition researchers and field technical support on staff allows Pioneer sales professional the ability to deliver both products and cutting-edge management advice.

For more information on Pioneer hybrids, inoculants or silage harvest tips, contact your local Pioneer sales professional.

Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, is the world’s leading source of customized solutions for farmers, livestock producers and grain and oilseed processors. With headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, Pioneer provides access to advanced plant genetics in nearly 70 countries.


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