Forage Report – May 30, 2013

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First-cut dairy haylage is underway in southern Ontario as the weather allows. Yields are quite variable. With the cooler weather, grass maturity is more advanced relative to alfalfa.  Frost damage to alfalfa seems to be minimal. With some below average yields, low carryover inventories, and high hay prices, forage supplies will likely continue to be tight. Paying attention to forage management and boosting forage yields is important. Research shows that applying liquid manure immediately after alfalfa haylage harvest improves both yield and forage quality. (Manure Applied To Forages Has Value http://fieldcropnews.com/2013/05/7189/)

Although respiration, harvest, fermentation, storage and spoilage losses are largely invisible, they are very real and very costly. Rapid wilting with wide swaths minimize respiration losses. (Wide Swath Haylage http://fieldcropnews.com/?p=7181)  With tight forage supplies, and high land and forage costs, reducing fermentation dry matter losses (shrink) and improving bunklife and forage quality by using a proven haylage inoculant easily pays for itself. (Silage Inoculants http://fieldcropnews.com/?p=7159)

Fill, pack, cover and seal horizontal silos quickly to keep then anaerobic. 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. Cover with an oxygen-barrier film and 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. (Packing & Covering Bunker Silos http://fieldcropnews.com/?p=7155)

Alfalfa weevil larvae are being reported in in the south-west, but haylage harvest is underway. If you are more than 10 days away from when you would like to harvest, scout your alfalfa to determine if alfalfa weevil is above economic threshold levels. (Alfalfa Weevil http://fieldcropnews.com/?p=3108 )

Seeding sorghum and sorghum-sudangrass to supplement forage supplies is now underway. These warm season annuals can yield well well with good agronomics and harvest management. (Forage Sorghum-Sudan Grass http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/98-043.htm