Tips for Carefully Selecting Corn Silage Hybrids

Tech Tuesday Header-01

Risk reduction is one of the most critical considerations when designing your 2018 crop plan, as I’ve written in past articles.

While I tend to be a very early adapter to new products and technology, I also assess the risk versus the reward. Taking “calculated risk,” rather than reacting somewhat spontaneously to emotion-based marketing tactics that make us want to buy on the spot, is especially important in fragile markets.

“I think you should buy corn hybrids for silage only from seed companies that evaluate their hybrids for silage use,” writes livestock nutritionist Everett D. Thomas in an article published November 30, 2017, by Progressive Forage magazine. “… they should have silage yield and quality data, including fiber digestibility. In some seed company catalogs, corn silage is mentioned only in passing – or not at all.” Type this into your Internet browser to read this article in its entirety:

What a great statement! There are so many things to consider when planting a hybrid: consider the end use first; keep crop rotation in mind; and minimize risk factors.

From a plant genetics standpoint, top risk factors are moisture stress and disease pressure. Remember that healthy plants are needed in the field to produce high quality feed and top yield. The key is to strike that best balance between all critical factors, so what’s best in the field translates to what’s best in the bunk.

Latham’s FieldXFieldSM approach to crop selection helps put the best in each field, which is part of bringing the best in the bunk. Genetics certainly play a role in delivering quality at the bunk, but that’s only one factor of many when producing silage. You also need stress tolerance and disease management, which may include a fungicide, along with good plant nutrition, and a strong plan for timely harvest.

As an independent company, Latham Seeds has bountiful genetic options. Latham® Leafy products are a great corn silage-specific option. Sales of our leafy corn products continue to grow because they produce amazing tonnage and quality.

NOTE: Leafy and silage-specific products typically don’t score high in university trials, as leafy hybrids perform better at lower planting plant populations and university trials are geared for higher populations. If corn silage evaluation programs were planted at the lower populations and evaluated fairly, the results would be more reliable and comparable. Many corn silage growers like the flexibility they get with dual-purpose hybrids for their utility across varying soil types and flexibility at harvest time, and trait options. If the bunk is filled, growers can still get top grain yield and sell some grain.

Every grower’s needs and corn silage experience are unique and different. Silage-specific products don’t fit into some grower’s crop rotation based on the trait needed to reduce risk. The great news is that Latham has a full lineup of dual-purpose hybrids for those situations.

At Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, we’d like to help you select the seed that’s best for your situation. We’ve collected lots of corn silage data, and multi-year data is available on And, feel free to also contact me at 1-877-GO-LATHAM or