Back Choosing the best maize silage hybrid

Date: 18 September 2017

The hybrid you plant will have an important influence on maize silage yield, quality and ultimately the profitability of your cropping enterprise. To choose the best maize silage hybrid this spring we suggest that careful consideration is given to the following:

  • Days from planting to harvest.  Maize hybrids require varying amounts of heat and therefore days to reach harvest maturity. For best results select a hybrid that’s not too long or too short for your growing environment. Pioneer brand products lists hybrid recommendations into seven growing regions with approximate days from planting to harvest and may be referred to on our website at:

  • The days to harvest information is sourced from actual trials conducted and is a reliable estimate of relative hybrid growing period. It will of course vary according to seasonal growing conditions.
  • Agronomic strengths. Selecting hybrids that have the right agronomic strengths for your area will help to ensure yield stability. This ensures you will achieve good yields year after year. For example: if you are planting maize on light soils in a low rainfall area, chose a hybrid with a good drought tolerance rating.
  • High quality seed. Seed harvesting method, handling, drying, seed treatment type and process, shipping and storage can all influence the emergence and growth potential of the maize seed that you plant. For best results purchase high quality New Zealand produced seed from a company that has ISO certified quality control systems in place.
  • Seed treatment. Research has shown that highest yields result from uniform, well grown crops of high yielding hybrids planted at populations selected to optimise starch, drymatter yield and nutritional quality. Quality seed treatment protects your maize seed investment from birds and common insect pests such as Argentine Stem Weevil, Black Beetle and Greasy Cutworm. Pioneer Premium Seed Treatment™ is a stamp of approval guaranteeing growers that advanced technology and the greatest of care has been used to apply their seed treatment.
  • Yield. Yield is the key driver of maize silage profitability in New Zealand. Use statistically robust yield comparison data to help you select the highest yielding maize hybrid. Pioneer conducts over 150 silage trial annually and statistically summarises the relative performance of hybrids within one of five growing regions. This data is available on the Pioneer website at the following link;

  • Nutritional quality. The final consideration in selecting a hybrid should be nutritional quality. The majority of the energy in maize silage comes from starch which is stored within the maize kernel. Small increases in the percentage of maize grain in silage will have a large positive impact on silage feed value. There are a number of factors that will influence the grain content of maize silage. These include harvest maturity, climatic factors (heat, moisture and sunlight), soil fertility as well as the choice of maize silage hybrid. To maximise maize silage grain content use starch analysis results to help you select a high grain content hybrid and always ensure the crops nutrient requirements are met.

Finally, a great place to complete your hybrid selection process is by talking to the Pioneer Team. They have observed our hybrids (and many competitor hybrids) in many paddocks and trial plots across multiple growing conditions and seasons. This local experience is extremely valuable in positioning the best hybrid for your growing conditions. At Pioneer, as well as providing proven, high yielding maize hybrids we have a local in-field team that can help you with all aspects of growing, harvesting, storing and feeding your maize silage crop. For further information or to arrange a farm visit, call 0800 PIONEER (0800 746 633).