The start of corn silage harvest for 2016 is just around the corner. Most corn silage is harvested from late August through early November, when energy, fiber and moisture are at their best, depending on planting date, hybrid variety and growing conditions. A third to three-quarters of the feed consumed by more than 1.2 million dairy cows in WI comes from corn silage, and it’s not unusual to find corn silage as the only source of feed for many WI beef cattle. It’s a unique and important feed providing a significant source of energy and fiber for dairy and beef cattle across the state and nation.
In 2015, nearly a quarter of all 4 million acres of corn planted in WI were harvested as silage with an estimated market value between a quarter to as much as a half billion dollars statewide. However, like hay, there’s no established commodity market like there is for corn or soybeans. Pricing standing corn silage is even more difficult than pricing standing hay, because the seller often has the option of letting the corn mature and marketing it as dry grain, but the additional costs must be considered as well.
To help determine a fair price when buying or selling corn silage, UW-Extension agriculture agents Greg Blonde and Ryan Sterry teamed up to develop a new free Android app that can quickly estimate the value of standing corn silage. It’s based off a detailed spreadsheet Sterry developed with input from several state Extension specialists (Shaver, Lauer, Linn). The app includes links to current corn and hay market prices and then allows users to enter their own yield estimates and harvest costs, as well as the difference in the value of soil fertility removed from the field when harvested as whole plant silage versus corn for grain, to determine a standing value per acre.