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Testing of Four Corn Hybrids for Extending the Grazing Season

Updated: May 25

Collaborating Producer: Bruce and Lorraine Jack, Happy Valley

Research Coordinator: Dr. Akim Omokanye

From: Peace Country Beef & Forage Association 2012 Annual Report

PCBFA is constantly responding to new and emerging innovative ideas to address cow-calf producers needs in a researcher designed and producer managed type of on-farm field trials. Also, creating awareness through on-farm trials and demonstrations geared towards increased technology transfer across the Peace is one of the several services provided by PCBFA. There has been growing interest on the use of corn for grazing in the Peace for extending the grazing season and reducing winter feed costs. In 2011, in a corn for grazing trial with Odell & Lillian Raymond, north of Peace River, 108 cows with an average weight of 1400 lbs grazed a 30 acre corn field for 72 days (259 cow days/acre), with the producer not having to start the tractor for that period. The study indicated lower winter feed costs, reduced operating expenses and saved time, as no harvesting is required, confirming years of observations by Sam king in Manning. PCBFA continues to collaborate with cow-calf producers across the Peace with the main goal of testing available corn hybrids with lower corn heat units (CHUs) for suitability for a particular area based on agronomic adaptation, feed value and animal performance. We also examine the direct input cost of corn versus oats or barley.

Methods The trial took place in Happy Valley (land location: NW 11-78-08-W6), near Spirit River, Saddle Hills County. The site was worked last fall. The site was again harrowed in the spring. Following a soil fertility test, the site was broadcast with 46 lb actual N/ac + 45 lb actual P/ac + 20 lb actual K/ac + 7 lb actual S/ac on May 12, 2012. We seeded 4 Roundup Ready corn hybrids (Pickseed 2219 RR, Pickseed 2501 RR, Pickseed Silex BT and Pioneer P7213R) with CHUs varying from 2050 to 2300. The corn hybrids were arranged in a randomized block design on 25 acres of land. Seeding was done on May 13, 2012 at the rate of 30,000 kernels/acre with a 6-row corn planter at 30-inch row spacing and at a seeding depth of 1.5-2 inches. Weeds were controlled once with Roundup at 0.67 L/ac.

On October 5, 2012, each corn hybrid forage yield was determined from six 17.5ft long corn rows. The corn forage samples were weighed, then we chopped some corn plants with a corn chopper for determination of moisture content and feed value in a laboratory. On the sampling day, the numbers of cobs per plant, moisture content and cob maturity were determined.

The total direct input cost of corn was calculated and this was compared to the cost of seeding oats.

The corn hybrids will be strip-grazed with 110 cows in the fall/winter. The cows will be allowed only enough forage for two to three days by utilizing an electrified temporary fence. Grazing will be across the 4 corn hybrids.