Forage Report – May 27, 2015

cuttingFirst-cut dairy haylage is started in southern Ontario, and should be in full swing next week. With the dry weather in late-April and May in many areas, forage growth is reduced, particularly in the grasses. Potential yields are quite variable depending on the stand, but looks disappointing in some areas. Grassier fields, forage winter cereals, ryegrass, and alfalfa fields that were harvested during the Critical Fall Harvest Period seem to have been more impacted by the lack of moisture. Frost damage to alfalfa on May 23rd was minimal. (Frost Damaged Alfalfa With higher land costs, it is important to boost forage yields by paying attention to forage agronomy and reducing harvest and storage losses.

New Seedings

New forage seeding were done early in excellent soil conditions, but many were delayed in germinating and are now stalled due to lack of moisture. 2,4-DB can suppress legume growth for a period of 2 – 3 weeks and severe injury can occur under drought or high temperatures. Monitor the stage of development of the new seeding to determine the 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. Uniform emergence as a result of good seedbed preparation and packing make it easier to stage. Target the first-trifoliate stage, where weeds are smaller and easier to control. Grower experience has been that injury to seedling alfalfa plants can be minimized when reducing the lowest labelled rate of 2,4-DB by 25%. A reduced rate may reduce the level of weed control. (Successful Forage Establishment

Planting Warm-Season Forages

Seeding sorghum and sorghum-sudangrass to supplement forage supplies is underway now. These warm season annuals can yield well well with good agronomics, a bit of rain, and proper harvest management. (Forage Sorghum-Sudan Grass )

Making Quality Haylage

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 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

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

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” and “Johne’s Disease – Should Manure Be Applied To Forages?” )