Short on Feed Inventory? Increase Grass Yield This Spring!

The Yield and Economic Response is Solid (Virtually Guaranteed, Nearly a Sure-Bet etc.)
Wet weather last summer has left many farms with tight forage inventories this spring. Budgets are probably even tighter. Year in and year out, one of the most reliable crop production investments is nitrogen fertilization of grass crops in the spring. Applying 75 to 100 lbs nitrogen per acre at green up increases yields (about 50% more in first cut) and quality (about 4 points higher CP and 3 points lower NDF). The graph below shows Forage Income over the Cost of N fertilizer from a N response trial in Delaware County a few years ago. N application, at recommended rates, gave a significant return even if fertilizer prices are well above what we expect to see this spring.

Cutting Management Critical
Cutting management goes with N fertilization. Early cut grass is highly digestible, and most of you know from experience that cows perform when you feed it. When N is not applied, many are reluctant to cut when grass is at peak quality, deferring to wait for more yield. Fertilized fields have good growth at peak quality, and fields cut early regrow quickly and usually will have a nearly equal second cut 30 days later. N fertilization and aggressive cutting management.

When is the Right Time?
So, when is the right time to begin grass harvest? The chart below shows fiber content (NDF%) and fiber digestibility (NDFD) by the day in May taken from the past 11 years of scissors cut samples in Delaware County. The long term average is for grass to reach the optimum NDF level (50%NDF) for starting grass harvest on May 16,. You will also notice that as the month progresses, fiber digestibility trends down as fiber content goes up. More mature grass has more fiber and that fiber is less digestible, meaning a cow can eat less (fewer pounds) and gets less energy from each pound she eats. Watch the scissor cut reports to see how this year’ crop develops and be ready to begin harvest when the first weather opportunity hits.

Fertilization Strategies
Grass needs Sulphur too, so it’s becoming more common to see a little ammonium sulfate (AMS) mixed with urea for grass topdress, especially where there is little or no manure history (manure is an excellent source of Sulphur). Consider a 75% uea-25% AMS blend. Our recommendations are to apply N at green up in the spring (early-mid April, depending on the year) If you’re applying urea this early, you should consider a nitrogen stabilizer to protect your fertilizer investment from wafting off with the breeze, if the application cannot be timed close to a rain fall. Later application also will likely benefit, but the chances of good conditions, rainfall and rapid N uptake, are better then.
When grass has good fertility, first cutting yields are high yielding and of excellent quality. Highly digestible forages have always been a key factor in low cost rations. So in a year with tight margins and tight forage inventories, fertilizing those core grass fields, where aggressive harvest is going to happen, is a sound investment.

Catskills Youth Climate Summit at Frost Valley a Big Success

122 youth and teachers from 14 area schools attended a 2-day leadership training on being environmental stewards at Frost Valley YMCA, Claryville, NY on October 9-10, 2018.  The summit was organized by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County and an advisory group of science teachers and students from South Kortright and Margaretville Central Schools, teachers from Andes School and Manhattan Country School, The Wild Center’s Youth Climate Program, with summit funders: the Catskill Watershed Corporation, NYC DEP, Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District and Frost Valley.

Danielle Eiseman, Program Manager of Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions, started off the summit with a keynote presentation about youth being the future leaders in a changing climate.  Morning and afternoon workshops included Understanding Solar, Geoengineering the Planet, How Mushrooms Will Save the World, Theater Art Survival Camp, Sustainable Bedroom Furniture, Home Heating, Composting Big & Small, and What’s Your Climate Story?

Youth enjoyed thought provoking and team building activities presented by Kurt Hahn Expeditionary School in Brooklyn and then watched a documentary about the health and environmental effects of bottled water called Tapped.  The evening ended with a bonfire and s’mores by the lake.

Day Two started with a poster session featuring school environmental projects and area organizations and businesses focusing on climate change.  Students from the Adirondacks next presented the Climate Action Plan for each school to plan ways to make a change in their school and community.  School developed action plans focusing on composting, recycling, reducing single use plastic beverage containers, and solar energy.

“I thoroughly enjoyed every activity available to me,” commented one student participant.  “We look forward to planning another successful Catskills Youth Climate Summit in 2019,” added Jeanne Darling, Executive Director at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County.”

Taking action against ticks at 4-H Camp Shankitunk

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County is the proud operator of Camp Shankitunk, the oldest continuously-operating 4-H camp in New York State. Situated on the Delaware River, the 165 acre camp features beautiful woods and open recreational areas. The cool, moist mountain setting is ideal for camping, but is also conducive to tick activity.  Each year, the camp serves over 700 campers ages 6 to 16. The majority fall into the 8-13 year age bracket, which coincides with the population that is most at-risk for tick-borne diseases. In Delaware county, reported cases of Lyme disease doubled between 2014 and 2016.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. The New York State IPM program uses current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is
used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.

With funding from NYS IPM, horticulture and natural resources educator Carla Crim, camp director Corrine Tompkins, and 4-H team leader John Hannum implemented innovative tick control strategies at our camp. We also developed fun and effective educational resources for three target groups: campers, camp staff, and parents.


Control Strategies

Habitat Elimination: The staff at Camp Shankitunk take pride in maintaining a clean, open campground. Well before the season, grounds- keeping begins. The perimeters of the cabins and common buildings are kept free of weeds and brush. Leaves are raked away from wooded gathering areas and trails.


Life-Cycle Disruption: The majority of ticks require three different hosts to complete their development. Ticks go through four stages of life – egg, larvae, nymph, and adult. A female lays several thousand eggs at a time, which hatch into the larval stage in the summer. Mice, which live in the woods and can carry disease, are a common host for larval ticks. We are utilized “tick tubes” as a mechanism to kill ticks at the larval stage. The bio-degradable paper tubes contain permethrin-treated cotton which mice readily steal for their bedding. Permethrin, which is considered quite safe for humans, kills ticks on contact, disrupting the life cycle.


Hundreds of tubes were deployed around the grounds by a licensed pesticide applicator from Pestech Pest Solutions in the late spring and the late summer.  We used commercially-available Tick Tubes from Damminix.  The applicator, Brandon Scutt, is actually an alumnus of 4-H Camp Shankitunk and quite familiar with the grounds.


In the IPM Pyramid, prevention is the first line of defense in the control of pests.  In addition to the control strategies employed to reduce tick populations, we relied on an educational approach to prevent exposure to disease. With resources and support from NYS IPM and Delaware County Public Health, we engaged camp staff and parents to maximize the delivery of tick education to campers.

Parent/Caregiver Education:  We developed an informational brochure that was mailed to camp families prior to the season.  The infographic-style brochure will contained facts and information to encourage packing and pre-treatment of appropriate clothing, as well as recommendations for selection and use of insect repellents.  Most importantly, it contained instructions for doing a tick check.  Because tick checks are a private matter, we felt that parents were best suited to discuss the details of this process with their children. We also asked that they encourage their campers to shower to 1) wash away unattached ticks and 2) have opportunities to check for ticks.  Note: At the end of this post, we have included links to download a zip file that contains editable versions of these materials for use at other camps.

We also included a letter from the camp director.  This letter served to not only inform the parents about the project and encourage them to play a role in camper education, but also reinforced our commitment to camp safety. Click here for a full-sized pdf version of the letter.

Just before we sent our mailings, NYSIPM published a series of infographics as part of the “Don’t Get Ticked NY” campaign.  We felt that the infographics about permethrin clothing treatment and insect repellent usage were particularly relevant and included them in the packet.  To view/download these infographics and many others related to tick awareness and prevention, visit the NYSIPM website.


Staff Training:  Educators from Delaware County Public Health services gave an in-depth training to staff during orientation week. Activity directors, counselors, nurses, and kitchen staff were in attendance. Topics covered were tick-borne diseases, tick removal, and repellent usage. Staff were instructed to send all potential tick encounters (attached or not) directly to the nurse on duty. Subsequently, protocols for proper removal and reporting were reviewed with the nursing staff.


Camper Education: Each week at camper orientation, Carla and Corrine gave a brief presentation about ticks.  Afterward, a group of counselors put on a skit to demonstrate “tick-safe” and “tick-risky” behavior.  Squeaky stuffed tick dog toys were used as props and the cast incited uproarious laughter while getting the message across.  Throughout the week, counselors reminded their campers to use repellents, shower, and do tick checks.  Signage and handheld mirrors were placed in restrooms and shower stalls to prompt campers to conduct frequent tick checks.



The combination of good groundskeeping practices and chemical intervention likely reduced the population of ticks at camp, however this is difficult to quantify given the already low tick population as determined by pre-season monitoring.  In 2017, ticks were removed from six counselors.  This year, ZERO counselors reported tick bites, indicating that preventative measures were successful.  Conversely, four campers found ticks on their bodies (three attached, one unattached) as opposed to zero in 2017. We suspect that campers did indeed encounter ticks in 2017, but were not as likely to be checking for them on their bodies.  This year, the three tick attachments were noticed at very early stages of attachment (no engorgement) and safely removed by camp nurses, greatly reducing the chance of disease transmission.

The majority of parents surveyed indicated that they took at least one proactive measure in terms of packing and preparing their children for camp.  Over 60% discussed tick checks with their campers, and more than 50% talked to them about each of the following: wearing protective clothing, proper use of insect repellent, and what to do if a tick bite is suspected.  Over one-fourth of the parents surveyed said that the educational materials strongly influenced them to pre-treat clothing with permethrin.  Almost all of the all of the parents surveyed encouraged their campers to shower during the week, which increases the likelihood of thorough tick checks.

Over the period of 5 weeks, 700+ campers and 45 staff were educated at orientations, and continuously received “tick check” prompts in the restrooms and shower stalls.  They will likely carry this knowledge beyond camping season and will be more apt to take protective measures in other outdoor settings.  We also created a display for the county fair, where we talked to community members and visitors about ticks and distributed tick ID cards.

Downloadable Materials:

We developed our materials with the hope that other camps will put them to use in delivering tick education.  We had the brochures and IPM infographics printed (and folded) through  Depending the size of your order, the cost may be equal to or less than printing in-house, and the results are very professional.  The brochure is available in two formats: generic (ready to print) and customizable (can be personalized with organization names and logos).  The tick check poster (generic or customizable) is designed to be printed on 11 x 17″ paper, and we recommend lamination. The letter from the camp director is provided in Word and Rich Text formats so that you can add your return address and a picture of the camp director.

Prepare to be Tick-Free Brochure:

Letter from the Camp Director:

Tick Check Poster:


Community Service with Little Clovers

You can’t afford to have sore feet

Dollar losses due to lameness are not easily detected on dairy farms.  That also means that there is a cost to not maintaining health hooves in your dairy herd.  Dr. Chuck Guard, DVM, Cornell University recently updated his cost analysis for lameness at around $545.00 per incident. This disease is one of the highest costs with loss in milk production of 750 pounds and reproduction. It takes 28 more days to get a 2 year old cow pregnant as an example. This is not to mention the long term consequences of having sore feet.

The best policy is to develop a no lameness tolerance.  It is better to have a prevention plan rather than have a reaction plan to sore feet.

Here are some steps to take to accomplish a prevention plan.

  • Locomotion observation. Locomotion Scoring information and charts are available on the CCE Delaware website.  There are even videos online that show cows with sore feet walking with head bobs and arched backs.  Observing cows as they stand will not always reveal when sore feet are present.
  • Early intervention with weekly observation of heifers starting at 10 months of age and by following a Veterinarian approved/ prescribed practice of spraying or better yet a foot bath would decrease the prevalence of having Digital Dermatitis also known as “Hairy Foot Wart” in the whole herd. Hairy Foot Wart manifests in an anaerobic (no oxygen), dirty, moist environment and can easily be spread to herdmates.  Once the skin gets weakened the causative bacteria can penetrate and cause the lesion.   Keeping feet clean by scraping stalls often, providing dry stalls or areas to lay down is important. Wallowing in manure and mud is the environment that is a brewing place for trouble.
  • Karl Burgi with the Dairyland Hoof Care Institute recommends a foot bath system with side walls and a 20 to 22” wide bath that is 2 and ½” deep and 10 to 12’ long. This system prevents cows from defecating as they walk through it and prevent weakening the footbath solution giving the needed 6 second contact.
  • Hoof trimming should be scheduled so that first calf heifers have functional healthy feet prior to freshening and cows are looked at in the early part of the dry period to decrease any stressor in the transition period at the very least.
  • Plan on a 24 hour turn around treatment for cows with sore foot that are early in the transition period to early lactation since this is a stressful time period.
  • Hoof trimming does not mean that the trimmer needs to have a pile of hoof shavings to have done a good job. Cleaning off the foot and taking a look is all that may need to be done. Dr. Karl Burgi’s comment is that 85% of cows are over trimmed.
  • Groves in flooring should be done in the direction of cattle traffic and should be ¾” wide, ½ “deep, and ¾ “center to center. The reasoning for this is that would prevent cows from sliding and when cleaning the barn it moves the manure out of the grooves more efficiently than if cross grooving.
  • New “green” concrete or rough surfaces where cows walk will make hooves wear quicker and cause potential sole ulcerations. Taking the time to smooth out surfaces are vital for good hoof health.  Grooved concrete that has just cured needs to have smoothing done by some method.  Examples of that usually involve another heavy concrete block dragged across the surface enough times so that you can walk across it comfortably in bare feet.
  • Pay attention to broken stall dividers as the break near the concrete could provide a hazard to feet. Walkways that have sharp gravel can be an issue as well.  Talk to your dairy nutritionist about a good zinc source to help strengthen hooves.
  • Keep good records from the hoof trimmer. Cows that have had permanent damage from prolonged inflammatory situations may need to be on your cull list if they are chronically sore footed.
  • Don’t keep wraps on longer than 24 hours. The purpose for wraps are to hold any medication or treatment on the foot or protect a wound for a short time from having manure etc. entering it directly. Having a wrap more than 24 hours actually promotes more filth being closer to the foot.
  • Cows need 12 hours of lying time for rest and rumination. Cows that are standing for prolonged periods of time are telling you something. They could be heat stressed and standing to gain more air circulation to cool off or they may not have a clean, dry, and comfortable bed to lay down in such as an overcrowded free stall. Also ally scrapers can be a source of pooled manure.
  • When purchasing cattle, quarantine them if possible check for hairy foot wart and treat them immediately and aggressively.


Locomotion Scoring: (Photo Credit)

Karl Burgi:

Hoards Dairymen Webinars:

By April Wright Lucas, Community Educator

Gaga comes to 4-H Camp

Ga-Ga Ball! The excited chanting of campers experiencing this game for the first time at Shankitunk was music to our ears this summer.  Traditionally 4-Square is the place to be during free recreation time, but gaga proved to be a smashing success that the kids loved.  How did this sensation come to be; a little organization and a lot of love and support from our community.  Camp Director, Corrine Tompkins, first pitched the idea of a gaga pit to bring life back into the volleyball court, an area of camp that was being under-utilized.  The beauty of gaga is that children of different ages and skill levels can all play at once. Games tend to go quickly meaning that once a camper gets out, they don’t have to wait long for a new game to start.

4-H Camp Shankitunk received a grant from the Stewarts Holiday Match Program to purchase the bracket system and wall buffers for the pit.  Donors and alumni pitched in throughout the year kicking off on #GivingTuesday to raise funds for an ADA compliant door and other miscellaneous pit expenses.  Lumber siding was donated by Pickett Building Materials and Bestway.  The Cornell chapter of AlphaZeta donated funding to purchase sand for the area which was trucked free of charge by Seward’s Sand and Gravel.  Staff worked to prep the site, after which local volunteers helped level out two loads of pea stone donated by local friends of camp.  The final step was assembling the pit. Volunteers helped us get started, but weather forced staff to finish up another day.  A plaque will be installed next summer to recognize the contributions of everyone involved in making this project a success that our campers will be able to enjoy for generations to come.

We’d like to thank our community for their role in this new and exciting addition to 4-H Camp Shankitunk.

Armyworms Found in Delaware County Cropfields; Scout Fields Now!

This week there have been a couple reports of corn fields in Delaware County with significant armyworm damage.  In one case the fields were later planted corn after sod.  A few fields have been sprayed for control.

Armyworms (also known as True Armyworms) are a pest of grass, corn and small grains.    Moths and caterpillars are both nocturnal. Caterpillars are smooth and marked with two orange, white-bordered strips on each side.  They vary in color from dark greenish-brown to black and are marked with two orange, white-bordered strips on each side. Caterpillars start out ⅛ inch and grow to approximately 1½ inches long, then pupate just below the soil surface. The caterpillar stage lasts about 3 weeks, but they are usually 10 to 14 days old before damage is noticed.

Damage in corn fields appears as ragged holes chewed from the leaf margins and pellet-like droppings (frass) in the whorls and scattered on the ground. The caterpillars will be found in the leaf whorls or at the surface of the soil. In grass hay fields, caterpillars will begin feeding during the night time on lower parts of the plant and spend the daylight hours in plant debris on the ground surface.  As caterpillars grow in size, they spend more time feeding during daylight hours and feeding on the upper parts of the plant.

Recommended economic spray thresholds for corn:

  • Seedling: 10 percent or more plants show damage and larvae are still present.
  • whorl-stage: apply an insecticide when there are three or more larvae per plant.
  • Tall corn seldom needs treatment unless the leaves above the ear are also damaged.

NOTE: When larvae are larger than 1.25”, control is not as effective, and most damage is already done.

Recommended economic thresholds for small grains:

  • Wheat/small grains – 5 or more larvae per linear ft of row, larvae less than 1.25 inches and not parasitized, watch for flag leaf reduction or if grain heads clipped off – yield losses, a spray before soft dough to save the remaining 3 upper leaves is generally beneficial since these tissues are still important to grain filling.

Recommended economic thresholds for grasses:

  • Grasses – no specific guidelines available, need for treatment based on the level of damage observed in relation to the expected value of grass harvest

REMEMBER… if you have a true armyworm infestation in a mixed alfalfa – grass stand, alfalfa and grass BOTH NEED to be on the LABEL!!!

For more on True Armyworm click here

True Armyworm larvae and feeding damage on corn.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Fencing how they all can Intertwine

By Ben Hepler, Community Educator

Fencing, it’s a necessity, unless all of your neighbors in your area are into living like the Native Americans when herds of wild bison roamed the land free to poop and trample where ever. In this article we will cover a few products that you may encounter on your farm that you could re-purpose to build or repair your fences, whether they be electric or barb wire.

We will start with the corner and end posts because without a good end, you will never be able to keep your fence tight. Now there are a few different designs for corners and end posts but we will focus on the style below.

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Photo obtained at

For me the biggest issue was finding a decent horizontal brace to use in my corner or end post design. I have found that the heavy black plastic cores that are left after wrapping your baleage work very well when pieced together with 3in PVC couplings. Below is an image of the finished product at my farm. What’s nice is that there is no need to line up a pin to a drilled hole on the horizontal wood piece. Now you can put the pin in a 3in hole and they are lighter than their wooden counterpart.

On our farm I have re-purposed old coated copper wire to jump electric fence across the road. I have also used left over 3/4in PVC pipe to bury the electric fence line in a gate opening. That way both sides of the fence stay electrified even if the electric gate is down or disconnected. Finally, I have used old garden hose as electric fence insulators in a pinch. On the barb wire front I used to get pretty creative at piecing old rusty wire together that if you sneezed wrong it would break. I have found that it is easier on my time to just put a new strand up, take the old strand off, roll it up into a wreath shape, and use them as Christmas decorations.

In closing, when it’s 10:30 at night and normal businesses are closed and the 9-5ers are asleep dreaming, cows get out, and farmers get really good at practicing the 3 R’s when it comes to fencing. Better yet, put them in the barn, go back to sleep, and deal with it in the morning. Happy Grazing!

Managing Some Pasture Weeds Found in Marginal Pastures

By Ben Hepler, Community Educator

As I was looking out at my pasture behind the barn I thought to myself, “boy it would be nice to do a better job of controlling buttercup, swamp grass, and yellow nutsedge”. The pasture lays nice but in my area, often the flat field at the base of the hill slope is also the somewhat poorly drained field.  The vegetation that I call swamp grass is actually slender rush here in the northeast. In this article we will cover how these plants spread, their habitat preference, how to identify them, and how to control them.

I am an aspiring grazier and I have been going to grazing conferences since I was in 8th grade. Believe me, the teachers had a field day when I would tell them I was going to a grass conference. So I try to maximize the pasture’s ability to produce quality forage the best I can with the time and funds I have at my disposal. However, even the best laid plans fall short sometimes and I find buttercup, slender rush and yellow nutsedge sneaking their way in. They creep in over the years with their spreading rhizomes and seed. They call home in seasonally wet areas, high traffic spots, and areas that have been selectively grazed from time to time without action taken to keep the grasses and legumes competitive against unpalatable forbs. To identify, they say sedges have edges, rushes are round, but grasses have knees. The take away here is that rushes have continuous round stems with a hollow pith or center, sedge stems are angular and almost triangular on the flowering stem, and grasses have knees because their stems are round or flat but have joints along them.  I have always found that the slender rush looks like a spiked bunch grass and yellow nutsedge has a lighter pale green hue to it than grasses and the plant feels different in terms of texture. Buttercup on the other hand has a distinct leaf and once blooming is very easy to identify.

To control the spread of these sneaky weeds start with making sure your pasture fertility is where it should be to produce high quality grasses and legumes. Once fertility is where it should be move onto eradication. Mowing before flowers form will stop the spread of the plants via seed and slow the spread of the rhizomes because frequent mowing will drain the energy reserves in the root system. You could try increased animal pressure in a rotational grazing system. I have seen my cows eat these three weeds when very young. Mechanical tillage and replanting might work in areas that can take machinery later in the year when things dry up. Artificially lowing the water table with drainage tile could also help improve the competitiveness of your grasses and legumes compared to these sneaky weeds. Finally, you could use herbicides to combat these weeds. One of the options would be to spray-kill the pasture and no-till in your new pasture mix. The other option could be to use a herbicide such as Permit or Yukon. These herbicides kill broadleaf weeds which includes buttercup, sedges and rushes. Permit and Yukon have also had hay and pasture applications added to their labels with no risk to lactating or non-lactating cattle. However, be sure to read the labels on the herbicide to properly apply it if you have a license or have a professional do it. Though these weeds aren’t as obnoxious as thistle or multifloral rose, once established they have the potential to limit the productivity of your pastures and can be hard to eradicate because of their growth habit and preferred habitat. Happy Grazing! and remember to concentrate on pastures that are vital to your operation first then branch out.

Oh! one last fun fact for the craft person in your life, if you want to try and make a few extra dollars from slender rush you could try making and selling rush candle sets to homesteaders, off the grid folks, or living history museums.



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Yellow Nutsedge

Image result for common rush in a pasture

Slender Rush in a Pasture

Image result for meadow buttercup leaves

Meadow Buttercup


Rush Candle with iron stand


  1. Anderson G. Weed Control Options for Pasture. Cooperative Extension: Garden & Yard. 2014 May 29 [accessed 2018 Jun 20].
  2. Jacobs, J., M. Graves, and J. Mangold. 2010. Plant guide
    for tall buttercup (Ranunculus acris L.). USDA-Natural
    Resources Conservation Service, Montana State Office.
    Bozeman, Montana 59715.
  3. O’Neil K, Hunter M. Sneaky Pasture Weeds- Sedges and Rushes. Cornell Field Crops News. 2014 Jul 15 [accessed 2018 Jun 20].
  4. Plant Database. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center – The University of Texas at Austin. [accessed 2018 Jun 20].
  5. Sellers B, Ferrell J. Soft Rush (Juncus effusus) Control in Pastures. Range Cattle Research & Education Center. 2009 [accessed 2018 Jun 20].
  6. Yukon ( and Permit ( herbicides, Gowan Company.

Picture citations:

  1. Brown G. Menu. Country Diary of a 21st Century Woman. [accessed 2018 Jun 20].
  2. Nutsedge. Bucks Country Gardens. [accessed 2018 Jun 20].
  3. Ranunculus acris. Wikipedia. 2018 Jun 19 [accessed 2018 Jun 20].
  4. What is Rushlight? Rushlight Events. [accessed 2018 Jun 20].

Scissors Cut Report 5/24/2018

Mow, Mow as Fast as You Can

Hay has continued to grow rapidly this week and grass fields are at target NDF.  Legume/grass stands have also reached their target NDF as of this sampling.  Harvest of grass and mixed stands should progress as rapidly as possible.  Legume fields are 5 to 7 days away from target NDF.

Grasses and legumes grew an average of 7 inches this week and increased by an average of 1 point of NDF per day this past week.  NDF digestibility is still above 70%, but as grasses mature digestibility decreases rapidly as stem elongation advances.  We recommend pausing corn planting and completing harvest of core acres as soon as possible.

Table 1 has each sample location, listed by Town and elevation, and lists the species sampled, average height, and neutral detergent fiber (aNDFom).  NDF is the best predictor for forage harvest timing, we recommend harvest of grasses starting about 50% NDF and Alfalfa about 40% NDF, with mixed stands between 40 and 50 based on the alfalfa content.

We have included 24 hour Neutral Detergent Fiber Digestibility (NDFD), a measure of how quickly and completely forage can be digested in a cow’s rumen, larger numbers are better.  Also is a column for un-digestible fiber (uNDF240), is correlated with how much of a forage a cow can eat, determining dry matter intake potential. Lower uNDF240 is better.

Haylage in a Day

As is often the case, we had a one day weather window this week, and several farms were able to take advantage and get a field or two done.  The key is mowing in a wide swath (80% + of mower width if possible), even tedding after a couple hours of drying.  Rapid dry down preserves more sugar in the forage aiding in better fermentation and more digestible nutrients.  More days available for harvest and more nutrients per pound of forage are a winning combination.  Click here for a web page with a good description of the concept.

A timely first cut is the essential first step to an adequate inventory of high quality feed.  It’s our goal to provide this weekly crop progress report to support you in planning for a successful hay harvest season.

Click Delaware County Scissor Cut 5_24_18 for a printable pdf of this report.