Forage Report – May 15, 2013

Alfalfa and grass are growing well and will respond quickly to moisture and heat. The May 14th frost did very little damage to established alfalfa and new seedings. (“Frost Damaged Alfalfa” Grass stands have responded very well to early applied nitrogen with significantly more growth. (Apply Nitrogen To Grass Stands To Increase Yields Early maturing orchard grass varieties have headed. Dairy producers are monitoring alfalfa maturity and will begin harvesting haylage soon. Growing Degree Days are currently normal, but 2 weeks behind last year. Scissors Cutting and PEAQ (Predictive Equations for Alfalfa Quality) Sticks are also methods used to determine when to harvest for optimal quality. (Using “Scissors Cutting” To Optimize Forage Quality

Underseeding to cereals and cereal-pea mixtures was very common as a strategy to provide some early, extra forage. Many new alfalfa-grass mixture seedings were done in eastern and northern Ontario to replace winterkilled stands. Many new seedings have emerged with the most advanced at the unifoliate stage. Watch new seedings closely for annual broadleaf weeds and to determine optimum time of spraying. The risk of injury to alfalfa seedlings is greatly increased when 2,4-DB application is made outside of the first- to the third-trifoliate stage window.  2,4-DB can suppress legume growth for a period of 2 – 3 weeks and severe injury can occur under drought or high temperatures. Field experience has demonstrated that reducing the rate of herbicide can reduce the risk of injury to alfalfa seedlings while providing acceptable suppression or control of weed seedlings. Refer to Publication 75, Guide To Weed Control.


The fall rye is growing rapidly with some already past the boot-stage. Many dairy farmers target harvest at the flag-leaf stage for high nutrient quality. Delaying harvest to early-head will reduce digestible energy, but increase yield. (Double Cropping Fall Rye For Extra Forage”