Silage Varieties for Alberta

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 Participating organisations | Major sponsors | Trial information | Test yield categories | Site information | Nutritional analysis | Variety Tables

Annual forages make up a large component of the yearly feed supply for many cattle producers in the form of silage, green feed and swath grazing.The selection of varieties that produce the highest forage yield and/or nutritional quality becomes increasingly important.

Silage is an integral forage source in feedlots across the province and has become more prevalent in cow herds as well. With many producers trying to lower production costs, swath grazing of cow herds has increased dramatically in the last few years. It could be argued that there is more grain forage than cereal grain fed to take many market animals from conception to plate.

Participating organizations

Eight applied research groups performed the project at twelve locations throughout the province.

  • Battle River Research Group,
    Forestburg, AB, 780-582-7308
  • Chinook Applied Research Association,
    Oyen, AB, 403-664-3777
  • Gateway Research Organization,
    Westlock, AB, 780-349-4546
  • Lakeland Agricultural Research Association,
    Bonnyville, AB, 780-826-7260
  • Smoky Applied Research and Demonstration Association,
    Falher, AB, 780-837-2900
  • West-Central Forage Association,
    Evansburg, AB, 780-727-4447
  • North Peace Applied Research Association,
    Manning AB, 780-836-5230
  • Peace Country Beef and Forage,
    Fairview, AB, 780-836-3354
Major sponsors
  • Government of Alberta (ARD)
    – Alex Fedko, Regional Variety Testing Co-ordinator
    – Fred Young, Agricultural Opportunity Fund Co-ordinator
  • A & L Canada Laboratories Inc.
  • Association of Alberta Co-op Seed Cleaning Plants
  • Alberta Seed Growers’ Association
  • CPS Canada
  • Canterra Seeds
  • SeCan
  • Solick Seeds Ltd.
Trial information

This is the seventh year the regional silage trials have been conducted by groups across Alberta. The objective of the trials was to determine yield and nutritional values of the various crops and cereal/pulse combinations.

The tables below show a summary of data from 2012 through 2015 as compared to the control variety (in bold). Yield of the test varieties is expressed as wet tons/acre (that is, 65% moisture, typical of silage production). Data sets that did not meet minimum quality standards (variance levels) were excluded.

Varieties of barley, oats, triticale and peas commonly used for silage, green feed and swath grazing were included in the trial, as well as new varieties showing good potential for these uses. The cereal trials (barley, oats and triticale) were seeded at recommended seeding density rates and recommended fertility.

The pulse mixture trial looked at increasing the nutritional value of silage, with a potential side benefit of decreasing future nitrogen costs. The pulse mix plots were seeded with 50 pounds of 11-52-0-0 only, while the monoculture cereal comparison plots were fertilized with 50 percent of the recommended cereal rates. Peas were seeded at 75 percent of their recommended seeding rate, and cereals at 50 percent when in mixtures.

Test yield categories

The defined range for each Test Yield Category is provided in tons per acre. Variety yields are reported as average yields in Low, Medium and High Test Yield Categories for comparison with the check for productivity regimes and environments that may be anticipated.

Varieties that are statistically higher (+) or lower (–) yielding than the standard check are indicated. No symbol after the yield figure indicates that there is no statistical difference. Caution is advised when interpreting the data with respect to new varieties that have not been fully tested.

Maturity, plant height and lodging were not measured in the trials as these factors are reported on extensively in the cereal regional variety testing program (see the factsheet Varieties of Cereal and Oilseed Crops for Alberta, Agdex 100/32).

To make effective use of the yield comparison tables, producers first need to decide if their target yield for the season fits within the Low, Medium or High Test Yield categories. It should be noted that the indicated yield levels are those from small plot trials, which are often 15 to 20 per cent higher than yields expected under commercial production.

Also, producers should remember that yield is not the only factor that affects net return. Be sure to consider the other important agronomic and disease resistance characteristics. The genetic yield potential of a variety is often masked by various crop management factors, some of which can be controlled.

Site information

There were 11 test sites across the province, representing various agro-ecological zones. Sites were located near the following locations in Alberta:
  • Castor
  • Fairview
  • Fort Kent
  • Hanna
  • High Prairie
  • Lac La Biche
  • Manning
  • St. Paul
  • Stettler
  • Westlock
  • Wildwood
The pulse mixes were not seeded at all sites. The Fairview site contained only the barley and pulse mix trials.

Yield at most sites was reduced in 2015 due to early season drought conditions. Data from the Manning and High Prairie sites were not reported due to poor growth from lack of moisture and grasshopper pressure.

Nutritional analysis

Nutrition was assessed using wet chemistry analysis. Full nutritional analysis was done on each sample; however, only six nutritional categories are reported:
  • crude protein (CP)
  • total digestible nutrients (TDN), which is an estimation of energy
  • calcium (Ca)
  • phosphorus (P)
  • potassium (K)
  • magnesium (Mg)
More information

For additional information, including varieties not listed in this publication, please call the Alberta Ag-Info Centre toll-free at 310-FARM (3276), or check the Alberta Agriculture and Forestry website,

Variety Tables

Factsheet and data preparation coordinated by
Alex Fedko
Co-ordinator RVT/Crop Research Technologist
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

Source: Agdex 120/32-1. February 2016.
For more information about the content of this document, contact Duke.
This information published to the web on January 22, 2014.
Last Reviewed/Revised on February 18, 2016.