Farm Ireland

Thursday 25 April 2019

Sweet outlook for silage crop as first cut gets

If yields are reasonable, don’t delay cutting silage.
If yields are reasonable, don’t delay cutting silage.
Siobhan English

Siobhan English

As silage harvesting continues at speed, farmers will need to make the most of the better weather early this week.

Indications from Met Éireann suggest that fresher, cooler and more changeable weather is set to develop from Thursday onwards with some light rain forecast. However, there is also a good chance that the warm and humid weather will continue for a while longer.

The Teagasc Fodder Working Group is monitoring conditions across various sites nationally. Dr Joe Patton, Teagasc specialist said: “It’s important that the first cut is not delayed and that the majority of farmers plan for a second cut in the 2018 silage season.

"Every effort should be made to rebuild fodder stocks during the coming months to ensure adequate stocks for the 2018 winter/2019 spring.”

Delaying the first cut too long past grass heading date will cause a large drop in quality and reduce second cut yields significantly, Mr Patton said.

“The aim should be to take out main first cut areas by early June; areas grazed twice this spring can be cut around 7-10 days later. If yields are reasonable, don’t delay cutting. Check sugars and if they are right, cut the crop, wilt and ensile.

Current conditions are favourable for increased sugars. If in doubt, local Teagasc offices will test grass sugars and nitrates to establish best options for cutting. Nitrates will not be a problem if sugars are right and crops are wilted,” he added.

“Wilting is very beneficial to silage preservation where sugars are marginal and/or nitrates remain elevated. The aim should be to increase crop dry matter to 27-30pc. This is best achieved by tedding out rows and wilting for 24 hours in good conditions,” Mr Patton said.

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The advice from Teagasc is that first cuts taken now will allow for second cuts to be harvested with a good yield by mid-July, leaving adequate time to build grass for the autumn.

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