Forage Quality

Forage QualityKnowing when to start first cutting haycrop can be a challenge. Harvest can not be tied to a particular calendar date but instead is dependent on heat and soil moisture. Alfalfa height has proven to be the best indicator of alfalfa and grass quality in the field and can give producers a heads up as to when to harvest.

To give producers some idea of when to start harvesting first cutting, the Dairy and Field Crops Team staff measures alfalfa height on over 60 fields across the seven counties. Those locations were chosen to reflect the diversity of heat, elevation, and soil moisture found in our area.



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Past Relevant Events

Hay Crop School ~ Mohawk

March 1 - March 8, 2016
6:30pm - 8:30pm
Mohawk, NY

Hay Crop School ~ Ballston Spa

March 2 - March 9, 2016
6:30pm - 8:30pm
Ballston Spa, NY

Hay Crop School ~ Cobleskill

March 3 - March 10, 2016
6:30pm - 8:30pm
Cobleskill, NY

Most Recent Forage Quality Content

May 23, 2017 First Cutting Forage Quality Summary

Kevin Ganoe, Area Field Crop Specialist
Central New York Dairy and Field Crops

Last Modified: May 24, 2017

This is our fourth and final week of monitoring of 1st cutting quality for 2017. If you are not familiar with our procedures we use alfalfa height to predict Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF) for alfalfa, alfalfa/grass mixed and grass stands. Alfalfa height has proven to be a reliable indicator of NDF values in the field.

May 16, 2017 First Cutting Forage Quality Summary

Kevin Ganoe, Area Field Crop Specialist
Central New York Dairy and Field Crops

Last Modified: May 17, 2017

This is our third week of monitoring of 1st cutting quality for 2017. If you are not familiar with our procedures we use alfalfa height to predict. Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF) for alfalfa, alfalfa/grass mixed and grass stands. Alfalfa height has proven to be a reliable indicator of NDF values in the field.

May 9, 2017 First Cutting Forage Quality Summary

Kevin Ganoe, Area Field Crop Specialist
Central New York Dairy and Field Crops

Last Modified: May 10, 2017

Growth has slowed this week as there has only been an average increase in alfalfa height of three inches. A few fields barely gained an inch.

Take a look at the tables in the pdf for locations near you but more importantly get out and look at your own fields. It may be too wet to be in the field but it doesn't mean you shouldn't take the time to prioritize which fields need to be cut first or maybe which fields are past prime and need to be left and cut later for lower quality uses.






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Announcements

2017 First Cutting Forage Quality Project

The CNY Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team has begun monitoring hay fields for our First Cutting Forage Quality Project. If you aren't familiar there is a very good correlation between alfalfa height and the level of Neutral Detergent Fiber in not only alfalfa but also grasses.

The team monitors fields throughout our region in May to give forage producers some idea of the optimal time to harvest that important 1st cutting. When to start varies as much as 2 weeks in our region depending where you are, elevation and soil type. Check out the Forage Quality section of our website for more information.


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