Hay

Forage Use: Haylage/Balage, and Dry Hay

Hay Solutions are mixtures of cool season grasses and sometimes alfalfa too for the production of hay or haylage. Be sure to note while every combination can be used for haylage, mixtures with ryegrasses or festulolium need more attention as these grasses are combined to fit a certain purpose or to thrive under certain conditions. Often times these mixes include cool season grasses that can be planted as early as oats. These grasses can be sed in conjunction with other grasses and or legumes in both pasture  applications or in conventional harvesting applications. Typically, these grasses have a higher digestibility or energy value than legumes by themselves. Also, if planted with a legume, greater tonnage can be realized than a legume planted by itself.

Establishment

Start with a soil test to determine the fertilizer and lime requirements. Planting at a depth of 1/4” to 3/8” (or a depth that is not more than 5 times the diameter of the seed). A smooth, firm seed bed is required to have optimal seed-tosoil contact for maximum germination. Broadcast seeding requires extensive field preparation along with an additional 25% more seed. For best coverage, use a split application at right angles to each other or crisscross the field. Most grasses will tolerate a soil pH range between 5.5 to 7.5.

Management

Avoiding over-grazing or clipping lower than 3 inches helps stand vigor and regrowth; 6 to 8 inches are needed for overwintering. It also encourages more root development. Proper fertility is needed to insure stand establishment, expected forage tonnage and quality. Approximate nitrogen needs are 40 lbs for establishment and an additional 50 to 80 lbs for the total annual requirement. Cool season annuals and perennials work well together since the annuals come on faster and the perennials, once established, have longevity and tonnage. If grass is to be used in a crop rotation where conventional chemicals are used, be aware of the potential chemical residue as the grass could be killed or suppressed.

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