We are hearing reports from forage producers around Ohio that first cutting yields are lower than usual. Forages took a hit from the late freezes and overall cold weather this spring, which arrested or even set back their development. Another factor reducing yields is that many producers cut earlier than usual because of the recent stretch of good hay-making weather.
I observed noticeable differences in first cut yield among forage stands that differed in soil fertility status, cutting management history, and age of the stand. Yields were higher where stands were younger, pH and fertility were at recommended levels, and proper cutting schedules had been followed in prior years. The history of appropriate management and younger stand life improved the ability of the plants to withstand and recover from the weather stress this spring.
The good news is that forage quality is expected to be higher than usual for first cutting here in Ohio. This should improve animal performance on those forages compared with our regular, more mature first cutting forage in Ohio.
If you are concerned about forage supplies this year, Chris Penrose has some excellent suggestions to consider in an article that previously appeared in the OSU Beef Newsletter and is repeated here. Below are additional resources we shared last year that can be applied this year, where forage supplies are expected to be short. More details about the various options for boosting forage supplies with annual forages are discussed.
- Emergency forages to plant for mechanical harvest: https://forages.osu.edu/news/emergency-forages-plant-yet-year-mechanical-harvest
- Emergency forages to plant for grazing: https://forages.osu.edu/news/emergency-forages-plant-yet-year-grazing
Short season forages for dairy farms: https://forages.osu.edu/sites/forages/files/imce/DIBS31-16_Short_Season_Forages_to_Fill_Supply_Gaps_for_Dairy_Farms.pdf