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VARIETIES OF SILAGE CORN FOR MILK PRODUCTION

“The yield of digestible dry matter has averaged 175 lbs. more per acre with the Southern corn. To offset this, it has been necessary to handle five and three-fourths tons more weight."

One of the first problems undertaken at the New Hampshire Station was a comparison of corn varieties for silage. Whitcher (3) gives the following, based on one field and feeding trial. All varieties were planted and harvested on the same dates.

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Southern 20.45

24.90 10,060 2.44 cts. Flint

16.00
27.60

8,832 2.24
An attempt was made to compare the corns on a cost basis and
the farmer is advised to grow "precisely the same variety of
corn as is used for planting fields to be husked." But the yield
of the Flint corn is abnormally high and one doubts the sound-
ness of the field technique.

Hills (4) reports in 1903 a two year field and feeding trial. Quoting from the conclusions—“The large corns look impressive, but they yield but little and often no more actual food value than do some of the smaller varieties."

Roberts and Wing (5) report in 1890, a single field test of 41 varieties of corn from which the following are selected :

Green Weight

Dry Matter
Tons

lbs.
Sanford

9.9

5,565 Red Cob

16.3

6,383 Pride of the North 8.4

4,102 Southern

16.2

7,390 They conclude_"Care should be taken to select the largest variety that will ripen before frost."

Lindsey and Smith (6) at Massachusetts in 1906, made a special study of Eureka as compared with Pride of the North. All data is on the corn as harvested. Digestion trials with sheep were made on both varieties.

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Under conclusions, they advise against the use of Eureka, arguing that the actual food material is the same and the excess yield of Eureka is water.

The above covers the early work in the East. Without exception, the late varieties are condemned. However, on turning to reports from the Middle West for the same period, we find different conclusions.

Shelton (7) in 1889 reports field trials at Kansas of thirteen varieties for silage. They range from very late dents to flints like Sanford. All were planted and harvested on the same dates. Dry matter percents are not given. The following quotation is of interest—"For this State an ensilage variety should mature late—the later the better, as a late sort will furnish more feed from a given area.”

Porter (8) at Minnesota in 1889 conducted a single feeding experiment to compare the value per acre of early and late varieties of corn. The silages were fed on an equal dry matter basis and the conclusions are:

"For Fattening Cattle. Our experiment shows that we received more value per acre from the Flint than from the Southern Corn Ensilage."

"For Milk. The Southern corn produced one-third more dry matter and this proved nearly equal, pound for pound, to the dry matter of the Flint Corn."

"Grow those kinds of Dent that are slightly too late to ripen." The data given shows an abnormally high yield for the late variety which would affect the conclusions.

Hays (9) in 1894, reports more extensive field and feeding trials at Minnesota and finds the dry matter in silage from an early dent and a late dent, “about equal in feeding value for milk and butter production." He further states, and this is the only case in the early literature where the problem of roughage is recognized, "Where a large amount of silage is

VARIETIES OF SILAGE CORN FOR MILK PRODUCTION

wanted from a small area to feed with cheap mill feeds, these results indicate that the most feed can be procured by using, in any given locality, corn so large that it will barely pass the roasting ear stage before frost."

There seem to be no further early data from the Middle West, but it is interesting to note that the conclusions drawn are opposed to those of the eastern stations. Two more recent station publications are of interest, both from the Middle West.

Williams and Wilton (10) report field trials at Ohio in 1914 as follows:

Green Weight

Tons

Dry Matter

Ibs.

Blue Ridge
Ohio Leaming

14.48
9.54

7.389
5,861

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Quoting from the discussion:

"It will be noted that varieties adapted to the growing of grain, because they may be expected to come to complete maturity, do not furnish as large an amount of nutrients per acre as the larger varieties. Attention should be called to the fact that more water will have to be handled with the larger corn."

"In intensive dairying, where it is a problem to secure enough roughage, the silage corn will likely prove more satisfactory. In the corn belt sections where the problem is to take care of the corn crop, the field corn will doubtless prove more satisfactory."

Cox and Duncan (11) in discussing varieties for Michigan, make the following statement:

“Extremely large growing types, such as the Red Cobb Ensilage, furnish a large yield per acre of silage material, carrying a much higher water content and less food value than silage of greater maturity. The dairyman, living near large cities with a limited acreage, who buys most of his feed, may find these types of use in giving him the largest yield of succulent roughage per acre on his high priced land. The average dairyman and farmer, however, usually has plenty of land and is more limited in silage space and desires to save as much as possible on concentrates. For him, a thrifty variety which reaches a more advanced stage of maturity is the best for sil

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age.”

These last two quotations indicate an appreciation of the problem of the intensive dairyman, although it is only fair to also credit Hays (9) as early as 1894. It is interesting to note that Hunt (12) in his "Cereals in America,” 1904, does not even discuss varieties or types of silage. Eckles (13) makes the following statement in the revised edition of his text: "In northern states, larger yields may be obtained from some of the special silage varieties, but these produce a lower amount of grain, and it is questionable if the total nutrients exceed those from varieties grown for grain.” Here we see agreement with the position of the early workers in the East rather than with those of the Middle West. Montgomery (14) in the “Corn Crops” says, “In the southern states and in practically all the Corn Belt States, perhaps the best silage variety is also the standard variety grown for grain. In New England, and on higher elevation in all northeastern states, the most profitable silage variety will probably be too late to mature.”

Very recently Savage and Maynard (15) offer the following: “We believe that the variety which will reach the glazing stage before frost will give the best satisfaction.” Even Henry and Morrison do not make clear the distinction between "general farming" and "intensive dairying.” Their discussion of “Variety of Corn for Silage” (16) does not recognize this distinction, so clearly discussed by Williams and Welton (10).

Thus we find disagreement among college and station workers, although the chief difficulty seems to be a lack of common ground or point of view in considering the problem. Even granting that the question is confined to that of silage on the intensive dairy farm, we find conflicting results obtained in the actual feeding trials reported. The best of these were the Maine and Minnesota experiments and the conclusions were opposite. In practice there is also wide variation, but in New England many farmers grow late varieties, in spite of years of advice to the contrary.

Since the work here reported was begun, Hayden and Perkins (17) have reported a five year feeding trial at Ohio. Their

VARIETIES OF SILAGE CORN FOR MILK PRODUCTION

results slightly favor the late variety until corrections are made for gains in weight, when the early variety leads, producing 1.74 lbs. more milk per ton and 1,152 lbs. more per acre. However, the method of handling the crops and feeding were not typical, at least of northeastern practice, and the difference between the dry matter percentages was very small, 1.93 percent.

The two varieties used were also less than two tons a part in yield.

PRELIMINARY FIELD TRIALS.

In 1914, field trials of varieties and strains of corn were begun by the Agronomy Department at Storrs. Early results indicated that late varieties did not yield as much dry matter as those that would practically mature, but as data accumulated this has proven to be incorrect as shown by the table below. TABLE 1-YIELDS PER ACRE OF SILAGE CORN.

(Average of 5 years at Storrs)

Stage of Maturity

Green Weight

Tons

Dry Matter

lbs.

% Water

Early Group
(Hard Dough)

12.4

6,491 73.80
Medium Group
(Soft Dough)

16.5
7,218

78.09 Late Group

(Kernels Just
Forming)

20.3
8,064

80.16 (It should be borne in mind that these are distinct groups of several varieties each. All were planted and harvested at the same time each year, and they represent the varieties grown in actual practice in New England.)

Considering yields only, it would seem logical, therefore, to grow a late variety. An attempt was made to compute the feeding value of the several silages on the basis of digestion coefficients available through the work of Lindsey and Armsby, and to use these results in an equation that would give the feeding value per acre. This proved fruitless because, first, the published coefficients are given simply as for “Mature” and “Immature” corn, and second, these coefficients do not throw sufficient light on the “milk producing value” of the several

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