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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Improving Forage Quality-Related Characteristics of Corn

Authors
item Buxton, Dwayne
item Redfearn, Daren
item Jung, Hans Joachim
item Mertens, David

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: September 16, 1996
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Forage corn, preserved as whole-plant silage, is increasing in importance in dairy rations. Nearly half the above ground dry matter of corn is stover (plant with ears removed), which has a large influence on whole-plant forage quality. We evaluated 45 inbred lines, most of which were elite for grain production, for digestibility and fiber components. Variation was greater in stems when the plants were near physiological maturity than when they were at silking. At silking, stem and leaf digestibility were only weakly correlated (r = 0.31). Digestibility of stems at silking and physiological maturity were also weakly correlated (r = 0.40). So, selection will be most effective if made near physiological maturity using either the whole plant or stover. From half to two-thirds of the variability in stem digestibility was accounted for by differences in neutral detergent fiber (NDF) concentration. Rate of digestion of the potentially digestible NDF from stems harvested at silking varied from 0.026 to 0.096 h**-1. Digestion of potentially digestible fiber at 24 hour was highly correlated with rate of fiber digestion (r = 0.87). We developed 12 single-cross hybrids from 12 of the inbreds. Digestibility and fiber characters varied nearly twice as much in the inbreds as in the hybrids. Hybrids with the most desirable digestion characteristics were usually developed from inbreds that also contained these characteristics. Developing commercial corn hybrids that have improved stover digestibility and high grain yields should be possible by selecting desirable inbreds.

Last Modified: 9/1/2014
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