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 CNY Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team staff measures alfalfa height on over 55 fields across the eight counties. Those locations were chosen to reflect the diversity of heat, elevation, and soil moisture found in our area.



FORAGE QUALITY CATEGORIES




1st Cutting Forage Quality Update ~ May 24, 2022

Erik Smith, Area Field Crop Specialist
Central New York Dairy and Field Crops

Last Modified: May 25, 2022

This is our fourth and final week of monitoring 1st cutting for quality in 2022.


1st Cutting Forage Quality Update ~ May 17, 2022

Erik Smith, Area Field Crop Specialist
Central New York Dairy and Field Crops

Last Modified: May 18, 2022

This is our third week of monitoring 1st cutting for quality in 2022. 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.


1st Cutting Forage Quality Update ~ May 10, 2022

Erik Smith, Area Field Crop Specialist
Central New York Dairy and Field Crops

Last Modified: May 11, 2022

This is second week of monitoring 1st cutting quality in 2022.


1st Cutting Forage Quality Update ~ May 3, 2022

Erik Smith, Area Field Crop Specialist
Central New York Dairy and Field Crops

Last Modified: May 5, 2022

This is our 1st forage quality update for the week of May 3, 2022.


1st Cutting Forage Quality Update ~ May 24, 2021

Erik Smith, Area Field Crop Specialist
Central New York Dairy and Field Crops

Last Modified: May 26, 2021

This is our fifth and last week of monitoring 1st cutting for quality in 2021.


1st Cutting Forage Quality Update ~ May 17, 2021

Erik Smith, Area Field Crop Specialist
Central New York Dairy and Field Crops

Last Modified: May 18, 2021

This is our fourth week of monitoring 1st cutting for quality in 2021.


1st Cutting Forage Quality Update ~ May 10, 2021

Erik Smith, Area Field Crop Specialist
Central New York Dairy and Field Crops

Last Modified: May 12, 2021

This is our third week of monitoring 1st cutting for quality in 2021.


1st Cutting Forage Quality Update ~ May 3, 2021

Erik Smith, Area Field Crop Specialist
Central New York Dairy and Field Crops

Last Modified: May 5, 2021

This is our second week of monitoring 1st cutting for quality in 2021.


1st Cutting Forage Quality Update ~ April 26, 2021

Erik Smith, Area Field Crop Specialist
Central New York Dairy and Field Crops

Last Modified: April 29, 2021

Forage quality update for the week of April 26, 2021


1st Cutting Forage Quality Update ~ May 26, 2020

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

Last Modified: May 27, 2020

This is the fourth and final week of our first cutting monitoring for 2020.


1st Quality Forage Quality Update ~ May 19, 2020

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

Last Modified: May 20, 2020

This was the third week of our first cutting monitoring for 2020. 


1st Cutting Forage Quality Update ~ May 12, 2020

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

Last Modified: May 13, 2020

This is our second week of monitoring 1st cutting for quality in 2020.  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.


1st Cutting Forage Quality Update ~ May 5, 2020

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

Last Modified: May 6, 2020

This is our first week of monitoring 1st cutting for quality in 2020. 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.


First Cutting Monitoring-April 28, 2020

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

Last Modified: April 29, 2020

On April 28, 2020 we began our monitoring of 1st cutting for quality this year. 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.


1st Cutting Forage Quality Update ~ May 28, 2019

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

Last Modified: May 29, 2019

This is our fifth and final week of monitoring 1st cutting for quality in 2019. 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.


1st Cutting Forage Quality Update ~ May 21, 2019

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

Last Modified: May 22, 2019

This is our fourth week of monitoring 1st cutting for quality in 2019.  


1st Cutting Forage Quality Update ~ May 14, 2019

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

Last Modified: May 15, 2019

This is our third week of monitoring 1st cutting for quality in 2019.


1st Cutting Forage Quality Update ~ May 7, 2019

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

Last Modified: May 8, 2019

This is the second week of our monitoring and at most locations all grass fields are either ready to be cut or will be in the next week


1st Cutting Forage Quality Update ~ April 30, 2019

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

Last Modified: May 1, 2019

Today began our monitoring of 1st cutting for quality this year. 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.


Feeding High Forage Diets Successfully

David Balbian, Area Dairy Specialist
Central New York Dairy and Field Crops

Last Modified: April 15, 2019

You have probably read or heard of people feeding high forage diets to their dairy herds, but how feasible or practical is it? The feasibility comes in when we are able to also have good productivity. Anybody can feed a high forage diet, but if milk output suffers to any great degree, the benefits will almost always be lost to the economic value of the lost production, even with current milk prices.  


Alfalfa Grass Mixes article, Dr. Jerry Cherney

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

Last Modified: March 4, 2019

Silage Management 101-The Basics, Dr. Limin Kung

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

Last Modified: March 4, 2019

1st Cutting Forage Quality Update ~ May 22, 2018

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

Last Modified: May 22, 2018

This is our third week and final week of monitoring of 1st cutting for quality for 2018. 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.


1st Cutting Forage Quality Update ~ May 15, 2018

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

Last Modified: May 16, 2018

Our second summary for 2018 shows 70 percent of the fields ready to be cut now if they are all grass and a number of fields that are mixed stands should be cut or will need to be cut before next Tuesday.

Credit to David Balbian, Ashley McFarland, Mark Schmidt, Sarah Ficken, and Bill Gibson for gathering the info in the field.

As always use information in the pdf as a guide to know when to harvest by checking your fields! Next report May 22!

1st Cutting Forage Quality Update ~ May 8, 2018

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

Last Modified: May 9, 2018

May 8, 2018 began our monitoring of 1st cutting for quality this year. 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 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.


May 2, 2017 First Cutting Forage Quality Update

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

Last Modified: May 3, 2017

We have begun monitoring of 1st cutting for quality this year. 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.

5-24-2016 First Cutting Forage Quality Summary

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

Last Modified: May 25, 2016

This is the last of our monitoring of 1st cutting for quality this year. 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.

5-17-2016 First Cutting Forage Quality Summary

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

Last Modified: May 19, 2016

This is the third mailing of 1st cutting for quality this year. 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.

5-10-2016 First Cutting Forage Quality Summary

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

Last Modified: May 11, 2016

This is the second week of 1st cutting for quality this year. 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.

5-3-2016 First Cutting Forage Quality Summary

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

Last Modified: May 5, 2016

We have begun monitoring of 1st cutting for quality this year. 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.

5-26-2015 1st cutting update

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

Last Modified: May 27, 2015

This is the third and last monitoring report for 1st cutting quality for this year. 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.

5-19-2015 1st cutting update

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

Last Modified: May 22, 2015

This is the second monitoring report for 1st cutting quality for this year. 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.

5-12-2015 1st cutting update

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

Last Modified: May 14, 2015

We have begun monitoring of 1st cutting for quality this year.

Every year is certainly different and 2015 is no exception. We did a dry run last week feeling that the fields were behind enough not to justify reporting. It appears we may just gone through one of the biggest jumps in alfalfa growth since we have started this monitoring. Since last week we had some alfalfa fields grow 9-11 inches where typically large jumps in the past have been in the 7-8 inch range. The warm temperatures really pushed alfalfa growth. However grass growth was atypical due to the dry conditions and is short by 2-4 inches as we now see some heading out. This is a reminder that grass may be behind in growth (yield) but it isnít behind in maturity or fiber accumulation. So check your all grass or mostly grass fields there is a good chance they may need cut. Even mixed stands should be given some scrutiny!

As always use information in the attached table as a guide to know when to harvest by checking your fields! Next report May 19!


5-27-2014 1st cutting update

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

Last Modified: May 29, 2014

This is Week Three of our 1st cutting forage quality monitoring and last for the 2014 growing season.

As of this date all fields in our monitoring program should have been harvested if they were 100% grass and all but nine if they were a 50/50 mix. By next Tuesday all but five fields if they are a 50/50 mix and all but nine if they are 100% legume should be harvested. Given the number of fields that should be harvested in the next week we will end the monitoring program for this year.

5-20-2014 1st cutting update

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

Last Modified: May 21, 2014

This is Week Two of our 1st cutting forage quality monitoring for the 2014 growing season.

Alfalfa grew 5.2 inches taller on average this week. Of the 69 sites monitored 82% should be cut if they are pure grass stands and 13% of the sites if they are a 50/50 alfalfa grass mix. So get out and look at your fields! As always use information in the attached table as a guide to know when to harvest by checking your fields! Next report May 27!

5-13-2014 1st cutting update

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

Last Modified: May 15, 2014

We have begun monitoring of 1st cutting for quality this year.

It is interesting to note that we are behind by about 10 days compared to some of our previous starts. As you can see at a number locations grass stands should be ready to harvest now or momentarily. But note the location differences as some fields may not be ready for another week. Elevation plays slight role here but not as much as you might think. As always use information in the attached table as a guide to know when to harvest by checking your fields! Next report May 20!

5-1-2012 1st cutting update

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

Last Modified: May 2, 2014

5-11-2010 1st cutting update

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

Last Modified: May 2, 2014

5-11-2011 1st cutting update

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

Last Modified: May 2, 2014

5-14-2013 1st cutting update

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

Last Modified: May 2, 2014

5-15-2012 1st cutting update

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

Last Modified: May 2, 2014

5-16-2011 1st cutting update

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

Last Modified: May 2, 2014

5-17-2010 1st cutting update

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

Last Modified: May 2, 2014

5-20-2011 1st cutting update

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

Last Modified: May 2, 2014

5-21-2013 1st cutting update

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

Last Modified: May 2, 2014

5-22-2012 1st cutting update

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

Last Modified: May 2, 2014

5-24-2010 1st cutting update

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

Last Modified: May 2, 2014

5-25-2011 1st cutting update

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

Last Modified: May 2, 2014

5-28-2013 1st cutting update

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

Last Modified: May 2, 2014

5-6-2010 1st cutting update

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

Last Modified: May 2, 2014

5-7-2013 1st cutting update

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

Last Modified: May 2, 2014

5-8-2012 1st cutting update

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

Last Modified: May 2, 2014

Combat High Grain Costs by Making High Quality Forage

David Balbian, Area Dairy Specialist
Central New York Dairy and Field Crops

Last Modified: May 1, 2014

Forage Sampling and Varying Results

David Balbian, Area Dairy Specialist
Central New York Dairy and Field Crops

Last Modified: April 30, 2014

Sampling errors can vary widely between feeds and between farms.

Forage Shortfalls Again?

Last Modified: April 30, 2014

Strategies to deal with forage shortfalls

Immature Corn Silage

Last Modified: September 20, 2013

Dr. Larry Chase from The Department of Animal Science offers the following tips for dealing with immature corn silage:



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Lycorma delicatula, or Spotted Lanternfly (SLF), is an invasive plant hopper from Asia and is an agricultural pest. In the United States, it was first found in Pennsylvania in 2014. Spotted Lanternfly has been found in New York State on Staten Island, all New York City boroughs, Long Island, Port Jervis, Sloatsburg, Orangeburg, Ithaca, Binghamton, Middletown, Newburgh, Highland, and the Buffalo area. SLF threatens the agriculture and forestry industries, and is also a nuisance pest. The nymphs and adults feed on over 70 different plants, but is especially detrimental to grapes, a black walnut, hops, maple trees and apples. New York State Ag and Markets supported CCE efforts to help bring awareness to communities and we developed this Public Service Announcement and would appreciate you sharing it with your member lists. 



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