Maize for Grain
Insight 310


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A range of high quality forages and concentrates can be harvested from the hybrid maize plant. This technical bulletin outlines maize options, their cost and benefits.


Most farmers are aware that hybrid maize can be harvested as silage or grain. There are in fact a range of different products that can be made from the maize plant (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Maize product options

Maize grain has the highest level of starch and the highest feed value but also has the lowest yield. Maize silage provides the highest level of fibre and the lowest feed value but has the highest yield (Figure 2). For more information on maize cutting height see Pioneer Technical Insight 335.

Figure 2: Maize plant composition and yield

The relative drymatter and energy yield and energy density of the maize options are shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Maize options relative yield and feed value*

 Maize silageEarlageHigh moisture cornDried grain

Relative drymatter yield

(tDM/ha at feeding time**)

100% 70% 52%


Relative energy yield
at feeding time**)

100% 83% 65%


Relative energy density

100% 119% 126%


*Calculated according to Mahlkow 02 and German feed tables. Assumes 6% fermentation losses for all ensiled feeds and 3% maize grain drying losses.

Table 2: Pros and cons of high energy maize options


The approximate cost per unit of drymatter and per unit of energy is shown in Table 3. Because it delivers the highest yields, maize silage has the lowest cost per unit of drymatter and energy.

Table 3: Estimated cost for a range of maize products and a user who grows and feeds their own crop

 Maize silageEarlageHigh moisture cornDry grain
Yield (tDM/ha)    22.5 15.8 11.7 11.7
Energy Density (MJME/kgDM)  10.8 12.8   13.6 13.6
Energy yield (as feed) (GJM/ha) 228  190  150 154
Maize growing cost1 ($ha) 2,270 2,065 2,065 2,065
Maize harvesting cost2 ($ha) 1,493 1,155 717 649
Feeding out cost3 (@$16/Tdm) ($/ha) 338  237  176 57
Drying and processing4 ($/ha)     468 1,080
Total cost ($/ha fed)
4,101 3,456 3,426 3,851
Drymatter cost (c/kgDM) 18.2 21.9 29.3 32.9
Energy cost (c/MJME) 1.69 1.71 2.15 2.42


1Maize silage cost based on Pioneer Maize Silage catalogue 2017-18. All others based on Pioneer Maize Grain Catalogue 2017-18.

2Maize silage cost based on Pioneer Maize Silage catalogue 2017-18. Earlage assumes harvest costs of $850/ha + bagging $158/ha ($10/tDM) + $147/ha Pioneer® brand 11C33 inoculant. HMC assumes harvest cost of $380/ha + $117/ha bagging + $83/ha Pioneer® brand 11C33 inoculant + $137/ha cartage. Dried maize = $380/ha combine +$269/ha carting.

3Assumes that the cost of grain and silage feed-out is equal.

 HMC processing cost $468/ha. Dry grain processing cost $468/ha + $612/ha for drying ($40/ wet tonne).

Cost of storing maize feeds

Storing maize for a season is a very viable option given current low interest rates. Maize silage that has been stored for a year will still be cheaper than earlage, high moisture corn or dry grain harvested in the current season (Table 4).

Table 4: Cost of storing maize feeds for a season calculated at 6% interest

 Maize silageEarlage High moisture cornDry grain
Harvest time    
Drymatter cost (c/kgDM) 18.2   21.9 29.3 32.9
 Energy cost (c/MJME) 1.69 1.71 2.15 2.42
After one year    
Drymatter cost (c/kgDM) 19.3 23.3 31.0 34.9
Energy cost (c/MJME) 1.79 1.82 2.28 2.575

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The information in this publication is general in nature only. Although the information in this publication is believed to be accurate, no liability (whether as a result of negligence or otherwise) is accepted for any loss of any kind that may arise from actions based on the contents of this publication.

© 2020, Genetic Technologies Limited. No part of this publication can be reproduced without prior written consent from Genetic Technologies Limited.

Revised: September 2017
Expires: September 2018