Leafy Corn Silage Hybrids

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 . . .

Strong agronomics

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Environment and management decisions have an impact on all crops, but Leafy Hybrids off ers the grower some unique agronomic benefi ts in addition to the excellent agronomics that are required of any successful corn hybrid.

  • A Leafy has tremendous spring vigor and produces a very thick canopy. This quickly 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.
  • A Leafy is more likely to fl ex than break in a foul weather event. Leafi es have been bred to produce ears that are positioned relatively low on tall fl exible stalks.
  • Leafi es have been selected to resist ear molds that can be responsible for the mycotoxins that ruin feed.

High total plant yield

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Leafy Corn Silage Hybrids are bred to produce a high yield of digestible fi ber 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. Leafi es have fl ex-type ears and the extra leaves of a Leafy help to develop and fi ll 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 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.

Leafy Corn Silage Hybrids are bred for ideal silage qualities to maximize income over feed costs on a dairy.

Hight starch content

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Leafi es are bred to have large, energy-rich flex ears. When planted at recommended population of 28,000-30,000 ppa, a Leafy crop will realize its best starch yield.

Short storage period

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Leafy Corn Silage Hybrids can be fed right after fermentation - after about 30 days in the silo. Leafi es have been selected to produce large, flat, soft, moist kernels that have more fl oury 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

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin compared a Leafy Corn Silage Hybrid to a dual purpose hybrid in a feed study. They found that “[s]ilage pH tended to be lower and lactate concentration higher for LFY than [the dual purpose], which was likely related to its higher moisture and sugar contents.” (Bal et al., 2000).

Researchers at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences found that the extra above ear leaves of a Leafy increase the sunlight-absorbing surface of the plant compared to dual purpose hybrids. “Prior to ensiling and before complete physiological maturity, there are still a large number of fresh leaves that contain greater quantities of sugar than those of normal hybrids.” (Pinter et al., 2011)

Long harvest window

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Leafy Corn Silage Hybrids are bred to extend the ideal silage harvest window. They are selected for a slower and complimentary rate of dry down 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.

Ration type adaptability

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Many dairies balance and feed multiple rations for cows that are at diff erent 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.

Excellent feed quality

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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 should produce a feed with an appropriate balance of digestible fi ber and digestible starh for milk production, while providing adequate eff ective fiber for healthy rumination and effi cient rumen retention time.

High fiber digestibility

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Leafy Corn Silage Hybrids have three 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 lignifi ed 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.

Leafi es that are grown at recommended populations have thicker, more digestible stalks since the proportion of soft inner stalk is increased relative to the lignifi ed outer rind.

Leafi es have two or more additional leaves above the ear and boast an excellent balance of eff ective and digestible fiber for the dairy ration, with no need to add straw!

High starch digestibility

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Leafy Corn Silage Hybrids are bred to have ears with digestible kernels. Unlike grain varieties, a Leafy ear is composed of large, fl at, soft kernels that dry down slowly on digestible cobs. The kernels have a higher proportion of fl oury white starch than the hard, vitreous yellow starch typical of grain kernels.
These larger, wetter fl oury 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: milk study

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin conducted a feed study comparing a dual purpose hybrid to a Leafy Corn Silage Hybrid. Despite the dual purpose having a higher quantity of starch (40.7%vs 38.8%), they found that: “[w]hen fed as silage, the leafy corn hybrid used in this experiment supported greater DMI as well as higher milk and milk protein yields when compared to the grain corn hybrid.” They also observed more 4% FCM. (Clark et al, 2002)