First-cut dairy haylage is in full swing the first week of June, with some farms finished. Harvest has been delayed by slow forage crop growth, and also corn and soybean planting on some farms. Yields are quite variable, depending on location and management, but most are below normal. Alfalfa growth and maturity is considerably delayed, but grass is much more advanced relative to the alfalfa and most grasses have headed. Fall rye and winter tricale haylage is done. Some poor winter wheat fields are also being harvested as haylage.
With tighter 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 )
Alfalfa weevil has been reported in western Ontario, although they are small and damage is minimal. Weevil could be an issue where first-cut is delayed or on second-cut regrowth. (Alfalfa Weevil http://fieldcropnews.com/?p=3108)
Making “baleage” can provide quality forage by reducing the risk of rain damage in shorter harvest windows. However, itmust be managed to reduce the risk of spoilage. The risk of spoilage can be frustrating to novices. There is little room to cut corners. Be sure to use enough plastic! Although a minimum of 6 mils of plastic film has typically been recommended, 8 mils or more is preferable, particularly with drier baleage. Make firm, dense, uniform bales. Large squares are usually denser than rounds. Bale at 40 – 55 % moisture. Lower moistures can also work and make nice baleage, particularly with large square bales wrapped with adequate plastic, but can be at a greater risk of spoilage if done incorrectly. Wrap round bales within 2 hours of baling on hot days and within 4-12 hours at cooler temperatures. Large square bales are more forgiving of later wrapping. Avoid using hay that was rained on. Avoid incoporating soil when raking to minimize contamination by clostridia bacteria. Do not incorporate soil into the windrow with the rake. Avoid fields contaminated by manure. Avoid mature hay with low sugar content. Be sure to repair all tears and holes in the plastic. (“Baleage Tips” http://fieldcropnews.com/?p=3531
Applying liquid manure immediately after alfalfa haylage harvest improves both yield and forage quality. A rule of thumb is to apply no more than 50 lbs/ac as ammonium-N. That is typically about 4,000 gal/ac of dairy manure, but there is a wide range in dry matters. A manure analysis will provide a more accurate number. Just as important is how quickly it is applied after the haylage is taken off, before regrowth. (“Manure Applied To Forage Has Value” http://fieldcropnews.com/2013/05/7189/ “ Johnes Disease – Should Manure Be Applied To Forage?” http://fieldcropnews.com/2012/05/johne%e2%80%99s-disease-should-manure-be-applied-to-forages/