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Timing First Cut – Fast fact!

By   /  May 26, 2014  /  Comments Off on Timing First Cut – Fast fact!

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Are you thinking about the timing for  your first cutting of hay? Some folks may already be there, but it could be awhile for others. Here’s something worth checking out if you’ve got a mixed alfalfa/grass stand.

Maximizing NDF (Neutral Detergent Fiber) is way to get the best forage quality (you knew that, though!). The graph below was developed by Cornell University Crop and Soil Sciences Professor Dr. Jerry Cherney to help you predict NDF in mixed stands based on the percentage of grass in your field and the height of the alfalfa.  To get the most NDF, the more grass you have, the shorter the alfalfa can be when you cut it.

Dr. Cherneys NDF Alfalfa height graph

Those of you in the North might find the observations of alfalfa heights across four New York state county sent in by Kitty O’Neil. There was a good amount of variation, but no one is ready for first cut quite yet. And, there was a lot of damage. In case you think you might have winter damage, check out Kitty’s article from last week.

North New York Alfalfa heights

Wishing you plenty of good mowing weather, at just the right time!

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About the author

Author and editor emeritus

Rachel's interest in sustainable agriculture and grazing has deep roots in the soil. She's been following that passion around the world, working on an ancient Nabatean farm in the Negev, and with farmers in West Africa's Niger. After returning to the US, Rachel received her M.S. and Ph.D. in agronomy and soil science from the University of Maryland. For her doctoral research, Rachel spent 3 years working with Maryland dairy farmers using management intensive grazing. She then began her work with grass farmers, a source of joy and a journey of discovery.

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