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.