Forage Report – May 30, 2012

First-cut is complete in some parts of the province. Yields are very disappointing, particularly in western Ontario. With low yields and low carryover inventories, forage supplies could be tight this year, especially if it remains dry. Hay prices were already at record levels this winter. There are still a few things that can be done to boost subsequent yields and also significantly reduce harvest and storage losses. Apply nitrogen to grassy stands. Research shows that applying liquid manure immediately after alfalfa haylage harvest improves both yield and forage quality.

Reducing fermentation dry matter losses by using a good haylage inoculant is easily justified. Fill, pack, cover and seal horizontal silos quickly to reduce losses to fermentation and spoilage. Pack in thin layers less than 6 inches for high silage density. Fast delivery to the silo is desired, but means using bigger or more packing tractors to increase packing time per tonne. CoverĀ  with silage grade (UV protection) 6-mil plastic in contact with the haylage to keep air from moving under the plastic. Avoid rainwater draining off the plastic down the wall into the silage to avoid nutrient leaching and butyric acid in the bottom and corners of the silo.