From Dale Dewing, Field Crop and Nutrient Management Specialist for farms in the New York City Watershed
As I write this note, many farms have mown the first fields of the 2016 harvest season. Many fields sampled this week have NDF in the high 40’s. We expect these fields will be at target fiber content by the time you receive this message. Indeed, it is time for first cutting to begin. There were a couple grass fields tested in the lower 40’s that may not reach 50% NDF before next week, and fields with high legume content appear to be more than one week from optimum harvest. Grasses and legumes grew an average of 3½ – 4 inches over the week and NDF increased about 0.7 points per day. We will sample again on May 24, and send results on Thursday May 26.
A few harvest tips to keep in mind
- Mow with a 4in stubble height – less chance of soil in the forage, faster grass regrowth, and the little bit of yield you might gain is all low quality stems anyway.
- Mow in a wide swath – rapid drying saves sugars, gets forage to proper dray matter faster and gets harvest in faster
- Pay attention to forage moisture (aka Dry Matter) – For bunkers shoot for 35% to 40% DM (65%-60% moisture), for Bags a bit dryer, and for baleage between 50% and 60% DM is best.
- Density matters – for bunkers, make sure you have adequate packing capacity, the faster the silage is coming in the more tins you need on the bunk, for balegae – dryer forage packs better, but however make bales as dense as possible.
- Cover/Wrap quickly – Get bunkers filled and cover as quickly as possible, wrap bales within 3 or 4 hours. Oxygen is the enemy of good silage, cover it quick and keep birds and rodents from spoiling the seal.
- Park the corn planter? – Unless you have labor enough to do two things at once, getting first cut done at the optimum time will gain you more than you may lose by delaying corn planting. Harvest your core hay fields at optimum stage and plant corn later.
The results are in the chart below.
Click here to download the PDF of the full report.
We have a Factsheet: How to Interpret Forage Analysis that will help you understand forage analysis terms.