Forage Report – July 3, 2014

Some first-cut horse hay is still to be made while many will start second-cut dairy haylage soon. Harvest schedules are delayed behind normal, especially in western Ontario. This may make taking a fourth-cut more difficult. Hay making weather has generally been good, but some hay has been rain-damaged. Yields have been extremely variable, depending on winter injury, rainfall and management. Yields in eastern Ontario have been excellent with good quality. In some winter injured areas in western Ontario some yields have been reported at 50 – 80% of normal. Hay prices seem uncertain, as many wait to predict what seasonal yields and quality will be.

Potato Leafhoppers

Potato leafhoppers (PLH) have yet to be reported at above threshold levels, but they are here. PLH can dramatically reduce alfalfa yield and forage quality. New seedings are very susceptible and can be permanently damaged. PLH insert a stylet into a leaf midrib and inject a toxin that results in a wedge-shaped “hopperburn”. Once hopperburn is observed, the damage is done and it is too late for control, so scout and be prepared to spray. The high PLH risk areas in Ontario are north of Lake Erie and the Niagara area.

Forage Options Following Wheat

With winterkill, winter injury and low first-cut yields in some parts of Ontario as well as higher land costs, there is interest in following winter wheat and other cereals with a forage crop to help supplement inventories. Not only can this approach produce some extra feed, it also provides cover crop benefits. There are a few double-crop forage options that can provide some cheaper, good quality forage. Summer seeding alfalfa rather than waiting until next spring can provide the benefit of a full yield next year without the usual establishment year yield loss. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, and every situation is different. 

The challenge is getting the wheat harvested, the volunteer wheat controlled, and the next crop seeded in a timely manner. Competition from volunteer wheat can be a significant problem. Without vernalization winter wheat will not form a stem in the fall to provide significant growth and yields are very limited. A lot of volunteer wheat can result when light grain goes through the combine. One approach to reduce the problem is to do some light tillage (at least behind the combine swath) to encourage the grain to germinate. A burndown with glyphosate 7 – 10 days later will remove much of the volunteer grain. Of course this takes time, and as the calandar gets later some options are lost.

  1. Summer Seeding Oats For Forage

  • moderate to high forage quality depending on the stage at cutting
  • adding peas an option
  • fall cut
  • follow with another crop any time next spring
  1. Italian Ryegrass

  • high to very high forage quality
  • fall cut & a cut next May can be followed by corn silage, soybeans, sorghums, etc
  • some risk of winterkill
  1. Double Cropping Fall Rye For Extra Forage

  • moderate to high forage quality depending on the stage at cutting next May
  • high yield potential
  • can follow with corn silage, soybeans, sorghums
  1. Summer Seeding Alfalfa

  • full yield potential next year without the usual spring seeding establishment yield loss


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