Named after the Leafy gene that produces a distinctive plant with 8 or more leaves above the top ear, the advantages of growing and feeding a Leafy Corn Silage Hybrid begin with these extra leaves. But the benefits don’t end there.
leafy corn silage video
Environment and management decisions have an impact on all crops, but Leafy Hybrids offers the grower some unique agronomic benefits in addition to the excellent agronomics that are required of any successful corn hybrid:
- A Leafy has tremendous spring vigor and quickly produces a thick canopy. This reduces the amount of sunlight that reaches the ground for the competing weeds, even when the Leafy is planted at the recommended 28,000 to 30,000 plants per acre (70,000-75,000 pph).
- A Leafy is more likely to flex than break in a foul weather event. Leafies have been bred to produce ears that are positioned relatively low on tall flexible stalks.
- Leafies have been selected to resist ear molds that can be responsible for the mycotoxins that ruin feed.
high total plant yield
Leafy Corn Silage Hybrids are bred to produce a high yield of digestible fiber and starch. Leafy’s extra leaves above the ear increase the leaf area index of the plant, allowing for more sugar production. These sugars are converted to starch in the ear. Leafies have flex-type ears and the extra leaves of a Leafy help to develop and fill those ears with starch. Extra leaves also increase tonnage. A Leafy crop stands taller and fuller than non-Leafy hybrids that are planted in the same location. Leafy Corn Silage Hybrids must be planted at low populations of 28,000 - 30,000 plants per acre (70,000-75,000 pph) to realize their optimal yield, but because each plant produces more dry matter than a dual purpose hybrid, you can realize top yields with less seed.
long harvest window
Leafy Corn Silage Hybrids are bred to extend the ideal silage harvest window. They are selected for a slower and complimentary rate of drydown in both the plant and ear components. The whole plant stays near the ideal silage moisture level of 65% moisture and 50% kernel milkline for a longer period of time compared to dual purpose hybrids. Dairy producers are more likely to chop and store the best quality feed with this extended harvest window.
research: long harvest window
short storage period
Leafy Corn Silage Hybrids can be fed right after fermentation - after about 30 days in the silo. Leafies have been selected to produce large, flat, soft, moist kernels that have more floury starch inside. During silage chopping these kernels fracture easily into small particles which require less starch softening by the lactic acid in the silo before the starch is available for rumen digestion. A Leafy’s increased leaf area also has the capacity to convert more sunlight to sugars in the plant during photosynthesis, so their stalks contain more sugars for lactic acid formation in the silo. This shortened storage period allows dairy producers to reduce dry matter losses and storage space requirements.
research: plant sugars & ensiling
high fiber digestibility
Leafy Corn Silage Hybrids have four unique characteristics that boost their fiber digestibility:
- They have a lower ear position on the stalk. The ear is the heaviest part of the plant, so the below-ear portion of the stalk must be heavily lignified to support its weight. By lowering the ear, the more digestible above-ear portion of the stalk is increased while maintaining an adequate below ear stalk for good standability.
- Leafies that are grown at recommended populations have thicker, more digestible stalks since the proportion of soft inner stalk is increased relative to the lignified outer rind.
- Leafies have two or more additional leaves above the ear and boast an excellent balance of effective and digestible fiber for the dairy ration, with no need to add straw!
- Leafies have been bred to have stalks that softer and more digestible than the stalks of grain hybrids which must stand until a later maturity.
high starch content
Leafies are bred to have large, energy-rich flex ears. When planted at recommended population of 28,000-30,000 ppa (70,000-75,000 pph), a Leafy crop will realize its best starch yield.
high starch digestibility
Leafy Corn Silage Hybrids are bred to have ears with digestible kernels. Unlike grain varieties, a Leafy ear is composed of large, flat, soft kernels that dry down slowly on digestible cobs. The kernels have a higher proportion of floury white starch than the hard, vitreous yellow starch typical of grain kernels. These larger, wetter floury kernels break up easily into smaller pieces during harvest and during the cow’s chewing. Smaller starch particles increase the sites of digestion for rumen microbes as well as increase the rumen retention time for a boost in milk production.
research: starch digestibility
excellent feed quality
Leafy Corn Silage Hybrids make quality milk and help keep a herd healthy. A Leafy crop planted at recommended populations of 28,000-30,000 ppa (70,000-75,000 pph) should produce a feed with an appropriate balance of digestible fiber and digestible starch for milk production, while providing adequate effective fiber for healthy rumination and efficient rumen retention time.
research: milk studies
ration type adaptability
Many dairies balance and feed multiple rations for cows that are at different stages of maturity and lactation. A Leafy Corn Silage Hybrid can form the basis of a ration that is fed to heifers, early lactation, late lactation, and dry cows.