First-cut dairy haylage is delayed and just starting in southern Ontario, but should be in full swing the week of June 2nd . With the cooler spring weather, grass growth and maturity is more advanced relative to the alfalfa. Alfalfa is more than 10 days behind normal, but grasses are heading. Yields are quite variable depending on the stand, but look disappointing in some areas. Older fields with those with injury are yellow with dandelions. In areas where soils are soft and wet, operating harvest equipment before they are firm enough can result in permanent wheel traffic damage to alfalfa crowns that impact the life of the stand. With higher land costs, paying attention to forage management and boosting forage yields is important.
Making Quality Silage
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)
Applying Liquid Manure
Research shows that applying liquid manure immediately after alfalfa haylage harvest improves both yield and forage quality. Refer to “Manure Applied To Forages Has Value” http://fieldcropnews.com/2013/05/7189/ and “Johne’s Disease – Should Manure Be Applied To Forages?” http://fieldcropnews.com/2012/05/johne%e2%80%99s-disease-should-manure-be-applied-to-forages/ )
Planting Warm-Season Forages
Seeding sorghum and sorghum-sudangrass to supplement forage supplies is 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