The objective of the present study was to calculate an optimal harvest period for both fresh and ensiled samples of forage maize and to calculate a set of harvest dates (called a harvest window), for which the variety ranking of the fresh forage corresponds with the variety ranking at the optimal harvest period calculated from the ensiled forage. Forage maize is fed almost exclusively as silage, but official variety trials with silage maize determine quality parameters in fresh (i.e. non-preserved) forage. Eight silage maize varieties were monitored at six harvest dates (from 25 to 40% dry matter content) in Merelbeke (Belgium) in 2013–15. At each harvest date, fresh samples were taken and half of the sampled material was ensiled in micro silos for 20 weeks. An optimal harvest period was calculated based on frequently measuring starch concentration and organic matter digestibility for both fresh and ensiled forage. Eventually, harvesting the silage maize at a dry matter content of 32–35% guaranteed an optimal harvest period. Based on the results of eight varieties, reporting variety ranks without going through the ensiling process continues to be a scientifically justified practice in Belgian official variety trials. Varieties with a superior fresh quality keep their leading position after ensiling, but variety differences become smaller after ensiling.
|Tijdschrift||The Journal of Agricultural Science|
|Status||Gepubliceerd - 1-okt-2017|