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Corn silage is an important source of forage in the United States. Silage provides over 40% of the forage value fed to dairy cows and is also an increasingly important feed in the beef finishing industry.
Since 1996, corn products with biotechnology traits and associated agronomic practices have contributed to the steady increase in corn production by reducing pest and environmental stresses in highly productive new corn genetics. Genetically modified (GM) corn products have helped promote yield stability and reduce production risks on a wide range of corn acres. Conventional corn products may offer lower seed costs and market premiums, but may also require more intensive weed, insect, and other management practices that can result in higher overall costs, lower stress tolerance, and lower yield potential. An analysis of 20 years of field research trials shows that GM corn has a number of benefits over conventional corn.1 The benefits for GM corn found in this research include:
For example, University of Wisconsin research shows that farmers planting GM corn products in a corn-on-corn rotation in 2000 had a lower potential risk of low yield (175 bu/acre) than farmers using a conventional corn-on-corn rotation. In 2005, the negative impact of the corn-on-corn rotation was not apparent for traited corn products, but was still a problem in conventional corn-on-corn rotation.1
Corn product selection is one of the most important decisions a corn silage producer can make to obtain the highest yield and quality forage for silage.2 To help maximize yield potential, silage corn products should be planted early, at higher plant populations, and in narrower rows than corn grown for grain. For high quality forage, select corn products that are 5 to 10 relative maturity units higher than a product grown for grain in the same field.1 Increasing plant populations by 10 to 20% over those recommended for grain can help maximize silage yields. In University of Wisconsin research, maximum forage yield was measured at 44,000 plants/acre and 38,000 plants/acre for grain yield, while around 30,000 plants/acre was the minimum for maximizing grain and forage yield.3 Although population recommendations are generally higher for silage products, populations should not exceed the “upper end65533;? recommendation for any corn product, keeping in mind that this may vary due to soil, environmental conditions, and management practices.
Weed competition reduces yield, digestibility, and protein content of silage.2 Corn is very sensitive to early-season weed competition and loss of silage corn yield potential can begin soon after planting. The critical period of weed competition is variable. Roundup Ready® 2 Technology provides crop safety and flexible application timing to adjust glyphosate applications to the scope and intensity of the weed infestation in each field to reduce the risk of lost yield potential. Benefits include:
Roundup Ready PLUS® Crop Management Solutions
European corn borer, corn earworm, western bean cutworm, fall armyworm, and corn rootworm feeding can cause stress and injury to plant tissues. This damage can reduce yield potential or allow fungi to infect, proliferate, and produce mycotoxins which have the potential to cause health problems in animals and humans.4,5,6 Insect protection in GM corn products protects the plant parts these insects feed on, which can help reduce the risks of lost yield potential and lower grain quality. Conversely, insecticide applications require precise application timing, rates, and coverage, and may affect non-target organisms.
Farmers planting corn products with herbicide resistance and insect protection traits with multiple modes of action can realize higher yield potential through: