Forage Report – May 16, 2012

Forage yield expectations are variable, but well below normal in many areas. Alfalfa fields severely damage by winterkill and disease are being harvested early and planted into corn for silage. (Planting Corn Silage After Early Haylage Harvest Planning to summer seed alfalfa following winter wheat is an option for those that have experienced significant winterkill. (Summer Seeding Forage ) Grub damage is also being reported. (Grub Damage In Hay Fields & Pasture

Alfalfa weevil larvae have been detected in the south-west. Feeding damage starts as leaf pinholes, progresses to feeding between the leaf veins and results in a skeletonized appearance. Larvae are bright green with a distinctive white stripe down the centre of the back.  Scout to determine if they are at economic threshold levels. Insecticide is recommended only when cutting is impractical, such as when the alfalfa is in the pre-bud stage.

Some alfalfa haylage has been harvested. Maturity of alfalfa is extremely variable due to frost damage and poor growth. Dairy producers generally target harvesting first-cut alfalfa haylage at an optimum 40% NDF.  “Scissors-cut” field sampling and rapid laboratory analysis can help predict optimal harvest dates.  “PEAQ sticks” (Predictive Equations For Alfalfa Quality) estimates of NDF are also useful. In mixed stands, be sure to watch the maturity of the grasses when making cutting decisions.