Timing Second Cutting Grass Hay

Andrew Frankenfield, Penn State Extension

Orchard grass and other cool season perennial grasses should be harvested at 4- to 6-week intervals, ideally between 35-40 days.

Mowing a short second cutting grass after a dry period has ended. Photo by Andrew Frankenfield

Production and cutting frequency are greatly affected by soil moisture, soil temperature, soil fertility, and disease incidence.

Pennsylvania has many different production zones, but this year unlike the previous couple years nearly all regions had a dry spell in June. For some, it lasted only a week or two and for others, it continues. The question that often comes up for discussion is “it doesn’t look very tall, is it worth cutting?” Typically, the answer is yes, especially if you are past 40 days after your last cutting. As the grass matures it is subject to more leaf disease such as a brown strip or leaf blotch. As moisture returns the plant will put out new growth but the existing forage will lose its quality. It is recommended to take the cutting, harvest what is there, add some nitrogen for the next cutting and hope you get some rain to get it growing again.

Do not forget about your cutting height, keep it up above 3” and a 4” stubble is even better for the stand longevity and regrowth.

 





 

For more information on Forage Varieties visit Penn State Forage Variety Trials and check out the various performance data from alfalfa, grass, and annual forages.

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