Corn silage is a valuable feedstock for many dairy farms and some beef operations.

The higher price of inputs this season puts even more pressure on maximizing yield without breaking the bank on inputs.

Some of the following guidelines should help with a successful planting season and put the silage corn crop in the best position to reach high yields.

Soil test and fertilize accordingly. Many silage fields in Kentucky have two crops, wheat and corn, both for silage. Good yields of both of those crops can pull more than 300 pounds of potassium and 150 pounds of phosphorus from the soil, according to AGR-1 Lime and Nutrient Recommendations. These nutrients must be replaced. Applying nutrients according to soil test will help identify exactly what is needed and where it is needed.

Select good hybrids. Based on the 2010 Silage Corn Hybrid Test, hybrid yields differed by as much as 6 tons per acre and milk yields differed by as much as 8,500 pounds per acre. Find as much data on hybrids as possible before purchasing them.

Obviously, forage yield data is the best, but grain yields are an indicator of overall tonnage and can be useful as well. Finding no data on a hybrid is not a good sign. Stay away from hybrids with no track record.  

Plant on time. Corn planting is recommended from April 1 to May 1 in western and central Kentucky and April 15 to May 15 in eastern Kentucky. However, many silage fields are planted after these dates, which most likely results in some yield losses.