Forage Report – May 23, 2012

Haylage started in full swing on May 21st in some areas. Yields are very disappointing, with two-thirds of a normal yield or less being reported. Some alfalfa fields severely damage by winterkill and disease are being harvested early and planted into corn for silage. Planting as soon as possible and adequate moisture are essential to successful corn silage yields.

Planning to summer seed alfalfa following winter wheat is an option for those that have experienced significant winterkill. (Summer Seeding Forage )

Significant alfalfa weevil larvae feeding has 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.  Insecticide is recommended only when immediate cutting is impractical.

Grub damage in hay fields is being reported. The best option in severely damaged fields is tillage (this exposes the grubs to predators) followed by replanting the field into a crop that has insecticide seed treatment options available (corn, soybeans).

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 results indicate that grasses are much more mature relative to the alfalfa. In mixed stands, be sure to watch the maturity of the grasses when making cutting decisions.