Maize for Silage
Insight 307


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A maize silage contract has been developed by the Forage Trading development group and is available from the Foundation of Arable Research website at:

Other points which should be considered include:

1. Amount of maize silage being contracted

This is either the number of hectares or the number of tonnes of drymatter that are being purchased. Because it is impossible to accurately predict crop yield, many contracts specify that the purchaser agrees to purchase a set number of hectares of maize silage on a drymatter basis. In this case the purchaser gets the total yield off the given area but pays for it on a kilogram of drymatter basis.

2. Purchase price

This is the price per hectare or per kilogram drymatter. For a crop purchased on a hectare basis, the contract should detail how the area is determined. All crops that are traded on a weight basis must be weighed on Weights and Measures approved weighbridges. There is a “Code of Practice for the Trading of Maize Forage” available free of charge from the Foundation for Arable Research, PO Box 80, Lincoln 7640, or telephone 03 325 6353, or by visiting their website: This document outlines weighing as well as drymatter testing requirements. A four page summary of this Code of Practice is also available, either from the Foundation of Arable Research or by phoning your local Pioneer Representative toll-free on 0800 PIONEER (0800 746 633).

3. Maize hybrid & planting population

Some contracts detail the maize hybrid that will be planted and the planting population. This will have an impact on the maize silage quality and yield as well as the time of harvest.

4. Payment schedule

Details of the timing and size of the deposit, progressive and final payments should be included in the contract. Late payment penalties are outlined.

5. Ideal harvest time

The desirable harvest drymatter and the method of determining drymatter are usually detailed in the contract. Ideally maize silage should be harvested between 30-38% whole plant drymatter. The contract should contain details of what happens to the crop if the drymatter is outside the above parameters.

6. Early harvest

In seasons where feed is short, it is not uncommon for farmers to request that a portion of the crop is harvested earlier than 30% drymatter.  Harvest prior to 30% drymatter results in a decreased yield potential and the contract should detail how the grower will be compensated for the loss of potential yield.

7. Co-ordination of harvest

The contract normally details who is responsible for arranging the maize silage harvesting contractor and the freight of the crop from the growers to the purchasers’ property.  The harvesting, weighing and freight charges are normally the responsibility of the purchaser and this is usually stated in the contract.

8. Quality parameters

  • Some contracts specify that the crop must be free of (or contain no more than a set percentage) of toxic or unpalatable weeds. These include thorn apple, nightshade, willow weed, fathen etc.
  •  It should be specified that the crop should be free of any toxic chemicals and that it must be harvested after required withholding periods for pesticides and herbicides.

9. Inability to supply

Contracts may contain details on the growers responsibilities if, for any reason, he is unable to supply the total or a portion of the contracted amount of maize silage.  Factors to consider include:

  • What happens if the crop yields significantly less than anticipated (e.g. drought or severe insect damage).
  • What happens if, due to factors beyond the growers control, the crop is not harvestable (e.g. wind or flood damage).

10. Arbitrator

Most contracts name an independent person (often a farm consultant) who is responsible for arbitration should any disputes pertaining to the contract arise.

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Revised: Sep 2019
Expires: Sep 2020