Chet Stuemke’s MasterGraze yielded 18 tons of silage/acre, but he’ll reserve judgment on the crop until after a feeding trial that’s scheduled to begin later this fall.
“The growth we got on it in a short period of time is pretty remarkable,” says Stuemke, dairy farm manager at Southern Illinois University.
He planted 25 acres of it in mid-May.
“It came out of the ground a little bit slow,” he reports. “It took a couple days longer than a normal corn silage would. But once it hit about 18” tall, it shot up like a rocket. We had 6-8’ of growth in 48-52 days.”
It was cut and windrowed with a disk mower-conditioner 60 days after planting, field-dried to 73-75% moisture, chopped and bagged. In the 12-week feeding trial, headed by dairy nutritionist Amer AbuGhazaleh, the silage will replace alfalfa haylage and/or conventional corn silage in rations. But its proper role will be determined by forage-test results, and the first sample tested a disappointing 10% protein. So the silage is being retested.
Stuemke figures an earlier harvest would have improved silage quality. “It was a little more mature than they suggest; it had started setting ears.”
He hopes to plant the crop earlier in the future, too, probably in April.
“I’m looking at it for fields that we want to transition into alfalfa in the fall,” he says. “We’re looking for an option that will give us some good tonnage and good feed.”