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Best bale wrap isn't a black or white matter

The verdicts are in. The researchers have spoken. Bale wrap color for baleage isn't an issue. But plastic quality is.

November 4, 2015

1 Min Read

Baleage allows harvesting high-moisture hay with minimal harvest loss. Depending on plastic wrap quality and wrapping techniques, you can expect 15% to 25% of bales to have some degree of spoilage, says Jamie Patton, University of Wisconsin County Extension agent.

Logic holds that black plastic should absorb more heat and speed fermentation, he adds. But as plastic temperatures rise, so does its permeability, allowing more oxygen to enter. So Patton went on a worldwide search for bale quality research. Here's what he found:

* German researchers report only negligible differences in corn silage quality between bales wrapped in white and black plastic.


* Irish researchers found plastic color had little impact on carbon dioxide and oxygen concentrations in wrapped grass silage.

* English studies found that grass silage wrapped six to eight times in green and black plastic suffered little to no loss. But forage digestibility and metabolizable energy increased with black plastic.

* Penn State and Wisconsin studies found little to no difference in silage quality due to wrap color.

The bottom line: Baleage quality is much more dependent on plastic quality, thickness and UV resistance than color. You can bale it, even bank more profit on it with the resulting higher baleage quality.

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