Forage Quality Report week of May 29

Crop Conditions: Hay
Heavy alfalfa fields quality peaked this Tuesday.

Jerry Cherney, Cornell forage specialist did some research which showed significant quality improvement in mature hay stands by raising the height of cut. So your normal height of harvest is probably 3-4” and alfalfa peaked at 32” height. You may be delayed due to the wet weather and as an example the height is 38” when you can get in the stand. Raising the cutter bar to 6-7” will leave mostly stem be hind with limited foliage and you will be harvesting the highest quality portion of the sward.

Maybe you are lucky enough to have significant inventory of high quality forages from last year in storage. It might be advantageous to set up a pile or plan on baleage for 1st cutting this year that can be allocated to dry cows and heifers.

The substrate for the bacteria to ferment your hay crop may be in shorter supply in mature plants, silage may be put up wetter or dryer than you would like due to weather concerns. Consider each situation and use the best management you can. Consider a finer cut if the sward is dryer then you would like and consider replacing inoculants with acid. If your alfalfa is wetter then you would like (<30%dm) for ensiling but you have to harvest before a rain consider using an acid . In most other cases consider using a dual inoculant that includes homofermentative lactic acid bacteria and  lactobacillus bucneri.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact Sarah Ficken at (315)684-3001 ext 108 or sjs299@cornell.edu or Jeff Miller at (315)796-3394 or jjm14@cornell.edu.

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