Corn will ensile well at moisture levels less than 70% for upright silos and less than 75% moisture for horizontal silos. Corn harvested at 62% to 68% moisture (late-dent stage) is ideal for ensiling.
The typical whole plant moisture concentration for corn at various growth stages is as follows (Lauer, 1999):
- R3 (Milk Stage), 79% whole plant moisture
- R4 (Dough Stage), 75% whole plant moisture
- R5 (Dent Stage), 70% whole plant moisture
Waiting to harvest frost-damaged corn will improve silage quality but will decrease dry matter yield. Producers must balance between expected yield losses and quality gains deciding to harvest.
For more about harvesting frost-damaged corn for silage, consult AGR-183.
Lauer, J. 1999. Silage Drydown: How is it Progressing? Wisconsin Crop Manager: 6:140-141
Lauer, J. 2009. Sampling Corn Silage Fields to Accurately Determine Moisture. Agronomy Advice 28: 47-72
Lee, C.D. and J.H. Herbek. 2004. Laste-Season Frost Damage to Corn for Silage. AGR-183. University of Kentucky.