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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Corn Silage Following First-Cut Alfalfa: a Forage Production Alternative?

Authors
item Durling, J - MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
item Hesterman, O - MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
item Rotz, Clarence

Submitted to: American Forage and Grassland Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: June 13, 1996
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Corn is occasionally grown for silage following first-cut alfalfa in the north central USA. However, little historic agronomic and economic information is available to farmers considering this system. Computer simulations, validated by field studies, were used to evaluate forage yield and economic return from the corn silage/first-cut alfalfa double-crop system. Based on historic Michigan weather, computer simulations favored the double-crop system in no more that 4 out of 26 years when compared to single- crop corn silage or four-cut alfalfa. The poor performance of corn following first-cut alfalfa was consistent with other observations of the moisture depleting and yield depressing effects of forage legume preceding corn in a double-crop system. This study supports a conclusion that corn silage following first-cut alfalfa cannot be recommended in Michigan where irrigation is not available

Technical Abstract: Producer interest in double cropping first-cut alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) and corn (Zea mays L.) silage increases when forage supplies are limited and alfalfa stands have been winter injured. Computer simulation was used to evaluate and compare corn silage following first-cut alfalfa with single-crop corn silage and four-cut alfalfa systems over 26 years of weather. Model validation was done using two years of independent Michigan field data. The alfalfa/corn silage double-crop system was less profitable than single-crop corn silage and/or four-cut alfalfa in 22 of 26 years. Although the alfalfa/corn silage double-crop system has been successful in other areas, it cannot be generally recommended as an economic alternative for forage production in Michigan.

Last Modified: 7/25/2014
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