First Cutting Monitoring – May 26th, 2020 SCNY Report


This is the SCNY Team’s second full week of monitoring alfalfa heights for first cutting quality in 2020. A full report for the six-county region can be found in the following link:  Alfalfa Height Reporting Sheet 5.26.2020.

Team Agronomist, Janice Degni, shares observations from the field this week:

This was the week that hay fields filled out and put on some yield. Plants grew by 8-10+ inches.

A little heat and plenty of soil moisture support that growth. Most grasses, other than orchardgrass and bluegrass, which are heading will head soon.

Alfalfa is mostly vegetation with some early buds in the tallest fields.  Its time to harvest when the weather allows.

In most of our region, mixed stands are definitely ready to be harvested, and in many locations, pure alfalfa stand should also be harvested within the next week.  The hot weather early this week will be followed by very cool temperatures this weekend, with a return to more seasonable weather into next week. Plan your harvest for as soon as weather allows, if you haven’t already.

As a reminder, for prediction of NDF content, the height of alfalfa as an indicator is as follows:

  • 100% grass stands – cut when nearby alfalfa is 14 inches tall (achieves 50% NDF)
  • 50/50 grass/alfalfa stands – cut when nearby alfalfa is 22 inches tall (achieves 44% NDF)
  • 100% alfalfa stands – cut when alfalfa is 28 inches tall (achieve 40% NDF)

Alfalfa height at optimum mixed stand NDF

From Kevin Ganoe, the CNY Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops Team’s Forage Specialist:

Predicted days to cut are based on daily NDF increases for grasses of 1.0% point, 50/50 mixed alfalfa/grass stands of 0.8% points, and alfalfa of 0.5% points and are adjusted for the coming week’s weather. Typically NDF increases about 0.8 to 1.2 per day for grasses, with cooler weather being the lower end of the range and warmer weather being the higher end. For alfalfa, NDF increases about 0.4 to 0.7 per day, also dependent upon warm/cool weather.

Look for our final report of monitoring heights to come out on Wednesday, June 3rd.  In the meanwhile, if you can’t get out to check your fields, call one of us on the team. We’ll be glad to help out.

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