Monitoring 1st Cut Harvest Timing
Joe Lawrence, PRO-DAIRY
First cutting can represent a significant portion of your total hay crop for the year and has the potential to be very high quality feed if harvested at the correct timing. To help you monitor that timing there are tools available.
Several CCE teams statewide offer weekly monitoring programs in the month of May and provide field updates in many areas of the state. See the list of 2017 programs below and contact your local CCE specialist to receive these weekly updates.
Alfalfa Height is a great indicator of harvest timing for alfalfa and grass fields. Thegraph in the Monitoring 1st cutting article can be used to identify the optimum alfalfa height for harvest based on the percent grass in the stand.
forage monitoring graph
A key to utilizing this information is an accurate determination of the percent grass in the field. Due to the growth habits of the crops it often appears that there is a higher % alfalfa than there actually is. It is very important to walk fields and get a representative view of the percentage in the entire field. Given that our eyes often tell us there is more alfalfa there than there actually is be prepared to harvest earlier than anticipated if the sample comes back with a higher percentage grass.
Have everything in place to roll when fields are ready to be cut.
- Harvest Team & Equipment
- Storage site
- Be prepared to stop planting corn when the hay in ready to harvest
- Consider everyone’s safety during this busy season
Minimize the Harvest Window
- Minimizing the time between cutting and chopping is very beneficial to forage quality
- “Hay in a Day” can improve forage quality and allow for quality harvest in narrow weather windows
- True wide swathing is a swath that is laid out at > 80% of cutter bar width
- Removing conditioners from the mower will accelerate dry down to silage moistures
- Strive for a uniform swath with no clumps
- Proper Dry Matter Content at Harvest
- Consider the use of inoculants, especially for forage destine for feed out in warm months
- Bunk Silos/Drive Over Piles – Packing Weight, Packing Weight, Packing Weight and COVER
2017 CCE 1st Cutting Monitoring Programs
Central NY Dairy and Field Crops Team
Chenango, Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Otsego, Saratoga & Schoharie Counties
Kevin Ganoe, [email protected], 315-866-7920 x230
David Balbian, [email protected], 518-312-3592
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team
Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming & Yates Counties
Jodi Letham, [email protected], 585-208-8209