Wholecrop cereal silage offers flexibility
17 July 2023
A benefit of wholecrop cereals is you can adjust the % dry matter (DM) you harvest the crop at according to your silage requirements.
Preserving wholecrop by fermentation is cost-effective and straightforward. However, use a dual-acting additive – such as Ecocool – to both aid fermentation and keep the silage aerobically stable and cool.
Harvesting at 30-40% DM
If needing to make up for disappointing grass silage yields, harvesting wholecrop at 30-40% DM helps achieve maximum fresh weight yield. In this % DM range it can also be harvested without special equipment – using a wholecrop header or by mowing before harvest with the conditioner turned off. However, this %DM will not give the maximum DM yield and will be lower in starch.
Harvesting at 40-50% DM
A more commonly-used %DM range for wholecrop, this offers a similar fresh weight as 30-40% DM, but more starch – making it useful for animal performance and helping to reduce starch-based concentrates.
This % DM also offers good moisture availability for fermentation, although it is more difficult to keep cool and stable than lower %DMs, so a dual-acting additive is important. Putting 2-3ft of consolidated fresh grass on top of the wholecrop before sheeting the clamp can also help.
For harvest, a wholecrop header is needed. Above 45% DM, a grain cracker may also be needed to prevent grains passing through the animal intact, unless the crop is undersown, when there may be enough moisture to help soften the grain.
Harvesting at 50-60% DM
At 50-60% DM, starch levels will increase further. So too will the ‘scratch factor’ as the crop is more fibrous, making it useful for higher production animals, particularly if feeding lower-fibre forages with it.
At these % DMs, a grain cracker on the harvester is essential and consolidation is increasingly challenging. An additive against heating therefore becomes even more important. In addition, it is always important to fill clamps in shallow layers at most 10-15cm deep, but at these % DMs it is critical in order to avoid "hot spots" in the clamp when feeding out. Again, a layer of grass on top will greatly help consolidation.
Dive into our comprehensive Ecocool Product Guide for valuable insights and expert tips on this beneficial silage additive made for grass, wholecrop, cereals and legumes.