We’re in the harvest season, and many farmers are busy preparing for or otherwise getting started with pulling in this year’s crop. There’s little more that can be done to maximize yields at this point other than having the right equipment and knowhow to bring it all in. It can be especially tricky for producers of corn and soybean silage, who can experience sudden swings in their rate of return on silage crops.
At Everglades Equipment Group, we understand that there are a lot of factors that go into predicting and reaching adequate yields when it comes to silage. That’s why we’ve put together this short guide with some basics to help you adjust your process and equipment to get a better ROI.
While we’re long past planting, finding the right hybrid for your silage crop is an extremely important aspect of hitting a good ROI. This starts with considering soil type in your field. Don’t just go with a hybrid that’s selected for strong agronomics, as they might not be a the best choice for sillage specifically. You want the right seed in the right place! Look for seed that produces soft starch, usually silage-specific, or a dual-purpose hybrid if you’re after good dairy corn silage.
Another factor to consider is fiber digestibility, which can drastically affect dairy output. Be on the lookout for a balance in agronomics, yield, and forage quality. Soil health and nutrition are also important drivers in forage yield and quality. Just remember that seed selection matters and matching the unique characteristics of a hybrid to your soil can make a huge difference in harvest yields.
Kernel Processing & Chop Length
Favorable aspects of silage can be impacted by how the crop is processed and can determine the size of your yield. Chop length impacts particle length needed for rumination. There are few ways to control and ensure quality processing, starting with the right equipment and specific settings.
Chopper and Roller
The chopper knives and shear bars need to be in good condition. Replace those that aren’t, as they’ll prevent even chop lengths. The entire roller mill should be examined for worn-down teeth. Uneven wear might prevent it from performing effectively. Rollers have a hard time with corn in general, so be sure to inspect yours after 400 operating hours. A gap setting of 1 to 2 mm between chopper head and roller mill will crack all the kernels. You’ll also want to set the theoretical length of cut (TLC) to 3/4 inch, longer than typical settings for non-processed corn silage.
There are a few specific scenarios that could gum up your operation if you run into trouble adjusting your harvester to the right parameters. The grain-to-stover ratio impacts how much grain goes through the roller mill. A higher grain content ratio means you’ll want a more aggressive processing procedure, which could be as easy as shortening the TLC.
Moisture can also cause a lot of problems, with low levels leading to a starchier harvest. Lowering TLC settings can lower effective fiber in dryer corn harvests, but this leads to better silo packing. If your roller adjustments don’t produce the expected results for kernel processing, take a look at the differential speed of the roller mill. The upper roller should be running faster than the lower roller, with a difference of 10-15%. Higher or lower ratios should be adjusted accordingly.
A combine kept in good condition is a great place to start, and your silage returns will only benefit from thoughtful and thorough seed selection. Pay attention to how your seed selection goes with your soil conditions, and don’t continue to use any settings or parameters for your harvester that aren’t returning the yields you’re after. For more combine and harvesting tips, head into Everglades Equipment Group. We have locations throughout Central and Southern Florida. Stop in today and let our experts answer all your questions and help you find what you need.