When to Cut Hay

 
  From the July 17, 2017 Issue of Agri-News
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 While hay may look and smell fine, appearances may be deceptive and tests will need to be done to make sure the quality is there.

“Cutting hay early will give you a higher quality product,” says Barry Yaremcio, beef/forage specialist, Alberta Ag-Info Centre. “Mixed hay or a predominantly grass hay will drop between 1 to 1.5 percent protein per week as it matures, and the energy content (TDN) will also decrease two to three points.”

If a producer is looking to mix this year’s hay with hay carried over from last year, or with a spring crop that was baled instead of combined, the higher-quality product will be needed to make up for the deficiencies in the older material.

Yaremcio says timing depends largely on location.

“Parts of southern Alberta are fairly dry and hay is short. You’re not going to get a lot of volume, but the longer you wait the more problems you will have. Same goes for the Fort Vermilion-La Crete area. Things are also dry there and producers will need to get the hay off early so that if there is some additional moisture, they’ll have a chance for a second cut.”

For areas of the province that have had too much moisture, Yaremcio says there are two concerns. “A lot of the nitrogen was leeched down below the rooting zone of the plant meaning protein content may be lower than normal. Secondly, the rapid growth rates could also reduce the amount of energy present.”

For more information, contact the Alberta Ag-Info Centre at 310-FARM (3276)

Contact:
Alberta Ag-Info Centre
310-FARM (3276)

 
 
 
 
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Barry Yaremcio.
This document is maintained by Ken Blackley.
This information published to the web on June 29, 2017.
Last Reviewed/Revised on July 7, 2017.