What is the Value of a Standing Corn Crop for Silage? (EC1343, Revised July 2017)

This worksheet goes through the steps needed to calculate the value of a corn crop to be harvested for silage. The net value per acre assume the buyer incurs harvesting and hauling cost

Revised by Andy Swenson • Farm and Family Resource Management Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Corn for silage sometimes is sold standing in the field, and farmers frequently ask how to determine a fair price for the standing crop. The following provides some guidelines for estimating the value of a standing corn crop.

Mature corn

The value of the standing corn crop depends upon several variables, including yield, price of substitute feed crops, and harvesting and hauling costs. The figure on line 5 in the above examples indicates the maximum amount the buyer could afford to pay. The buyer should discount the computed price by the estimated spoilage. With this information, the parties would negotiate the price.

If you have all-risk crop insurance on your corn crop, you should check with your insurance agent before beginning chopping to determine how selling the standing corn crop will affect yield history and insurance payments if the situation warrants.

Failure to notify your insurance agent may result in forfeiture of any potential indemnity payment. If you have a potential insurance claim, your insurance company likely will require you to leave a number of rows unharvested at specified intervals across the field to be used for final appraisal. Also, selling unharvested corn results in a loss of beneficial interest prior to harvest. This means you will not be eligible for any potential loan deficiency payment.

Calculating the Value Per Ton of Corn Silage

If shelled corn containing 13 percent moisture is priced locally at $3.50 per bushel and grass hay containing 10 percent moisture is priced at $80 per ton, their value per pound of dry matter is computed as follows:


Corn hay

If silage contains 30 percent dry matter, there are 600 pounds of dry matter per ton, or the equivalent of 300 pounds of shelled corn and 300 pounds of grass hay. Mature, high-yielding grain corn should contain 50 percent grain by dry-matter weight.


The above example is typical of good-quality mature corn made into silage. However, immature (early frost) or drought-impacted corn salvaged for silage contains much less grain relative to stalk and leaf material. Corn in the hard dough stage may be only 25 percent grain by dry-matter weight.

In that case, the value would be computed as follows:

immature corn

Very immature corn with no grain content would be valued based on hay equivalent value only.

Corn silage


This publication was authored by Dwight Aakre, retired Farm Management Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Creative Commons License
Feel free to use and share this content, but please do so under the conditions of our Creative Commons license and our Rules for Use. Thanks.