High-Moisture Corn Offers Many Benefits to Producers

High-moisture corn offers many benefits to producers, but there are some things to keep in mind before using it on your farm. Caitlin Mellinger is a forage specialist with Provita Supplements. She talks about the benefits of high-moisture corn and says it’s a great option for dairy and beef producers.

“You don’t have the drying costs that come with dry corn because, typically, when it comes out of the field, it still needs to be dried down so that it doesn’t spoil. It’s very highly palatable, so the cows like it. It also provides harvest flexibility, and that’s because producers are able to use that time between corn silage and corn grain harvest, and they’re able to get some of their corn fields in a silo and ensiled and able to be used later in the seasons. It also allows them to harvest earlier, and that allows them to avoid any adverse weather conditions that can come with winter. We also have a reduction in harvest losses because we’re able to increase their yields due to less ear-drop in the field. And if we can harvest high moisture corn and ensile it properly, it can be a valuable feed source for dairy and beef farms.”

Mellinger talks about things to watch out for when ensiling high-moisture corn.

“One of the biggest properties of it is that it has low moisture and low fermentable sugars, so this means that we have less substrate for lactic acid bacteria to be able to produce acids, and this, in the end, can restrict the extent of fermentation, and we don’t want that to happen because we want to make sure we’re ensiling good quality feed. So high moisture corn, because of that, is prone to reheating and spoilage. It has a high starch environment, and then with that low acid production, specifically acetic acid, this creates a perfect environment for aerobic deterioration. Additionally, high moisture corn is usually harvested in this cooler time of year, and that has an impact on those populations of naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria. And for this reason, we really encourage producers to treat their high-moisture corn with an inoculant containing hetero-fermentative lactic acid bacteria that will produce acetic acid. Products like that are BONSILAGE Speed C BONSILAGE Corn Plus.”

Inoculants ensure proper fermentation, good aerobic stability at feed out, and prevent spoilage and loss. She talks about best management practices when ensiling high-moisture corn.

“We recommend putting it up at a higher moisture level with a target range of about 30 to 38 percent. And this is so we’re ensuring that a proper fermentation takes place, that there’s enough moisture there for the lactic acid bacteria to produce their acids, and we get that really good fermentation and good aerobic stability. So, reaching this proper moisture is not only important for fermentation, but it’s also important for the packing aspect of it. If it starts to get too dry, it just makes it harder to pack like any other silage, and that lack of moisture will also result in poor fermentation, so producers should make sure that they’re grinding or rolling the high-moisture corn before packing it. If it’s at a lower moisture content, we ground it up more finely so that it is easier to pack, and we get that oxygen out of the mass. We also want to make sure during feed out that we’re ensuring that the piles and bunks are sized to remove at least six inches a day, and then also following proper face management techniques during feed out to reduce spoilage and reheating.”

How do producers mitigate the risks of reheating and secondary fermentation?

“Using a research-proven inoculant like a BONSILAGE product that contains both a combination of homolactic and hetero-lactic acid bacteria. We’re going to be able to get that lactic acid bacteria to be able to dominate that fermentation and produce more acids, including that acetic acid which will inhibit aerobic deteriorating microorganisms that cause that reheating and spoilage at feed out. So, using an inoculant to protect your investment and getting that aerobic stability at the feed out is important with high moisture corn.”

To learn more about BONSILAGE inoculants, go to www.bonsilageusa.com or chat with a BONSILAGE rep today.