Here’s one more bit of good news that could boost silage making for livestock feed. An agricultural company based in Isabela has come up with a hybrid non-GMO corn variety that is so vigorous, it will grow eight to 10 feet tall when it is harvestable for making silage in 75 days after planting.

The Super Tall hybrid corn was launched recently by Right Agri Company during the 8th Goat and Sheep Congress held at the Benguet State University in La Trinidad. Right Agri’s Eugene Gabriel says the variety is mainly intended for silage making but it can also be planted for grain production. In fact, a grower in Isabela said it is possible to harvest 8 tons of grains per hectare.

Super Tall corn grows 8 to 10 feet tall.

The new variety, which is still being readied for accreditation by the National Seed Industry Council, is now being planted in 20 to 30 hectares in Tarlac and a similar area in Pangasinan by the group of Dr. Ronaldo Sumaoang, a microbiologist who is now focused on commercial silage production in a joint venture with Right Agri.

Right Agri, which has expertise in farm mechanization, provides the machinery for land preparation, mechanized sowing, harvesting and shredding of the 75-day-old corn plants for making silage. It also takes care of vacuum-packing. Dr. Sumaoang’s Novatech, on the other hand, provides the expertise in producing silage that is enriched with enzymes and beneficial microorganisms for enhanced nutritional value of the feed.

The joint venture of Right Agri and Novatech has recruited farmer-cooperators who grow the Super Tall corn under the guidance of the experts of the joint venture. Last February 6, Dr. Sumaoang supervised the harvesting of the first three hectares in Tarlac. He said they got 80 to 90 tons per hectare.

Dr. Sumaoang explained that each corn plant, including the ears with soft kernels, weighs 1 to 1.2 kilos. Since there are 75,000 plants per hectare, the yield can be 80 to 90 tons per hectare. Under the agreement, Dr. Sumaoang and his partner (Right Agri) buy the newly harvested corn plants at P1 per kilo; hence, a farmer can make a gross income of P80,000 to P90,000 per hectare in a growing period of about 75 days.

If the harvesting is not mechanized and the farmer has to do the job, the partners will pay P1.20 per kilo loaded to the truck. The farmer will get a good income under the scheme. Dr. Sumaoang said the average cost of production—which includes the seeds, land preparation, and fertilizers (organic and chemical)—amounts to only P30,000 to P40,000 per hectare. The cost of seeds, according to Right Agri, is P7,000 per hectare.

Eugene Gabriel showing corn silage up close.

In Tarlac and Pangasinan, the farmers usually plant corn after harvesting rice in November. Normally, they can grow only one crop for grain production because it takes almost four months to grow one crop. When they grow the Super Tall hybrid for silage, they can grow two crops before the onset of the rainy season around May or June. They don’t normally plant two crops of corn after rice if they are producing grains because the maturity of the second crop will be overtaken by the coming of the rains, according to Dr. Sumaoang.

The silage produced by the partners are very affordable, according to Dr. Sumaoang. They can sell the same for as low as P4.50 to P6.50 per kilo, depending on how far the silage has to be delivered. The silage is good for small ruminants (goats and sheep) as well as large ones like dairy cattle, fattening cattle, and carabaos.

The availability of affordable feed like silage will make it possible for small backyard livestock raisers to increase the number of animals that they can raise. As of now, many backyard raisers take care of just one or two head because they don’t have green grass during the dry season. With the availability of affordable feed like silage, the livestock population can increase considerably, according to Dr. Sumaoang.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s March 2018 issue.