Maximising second and third cut yields needs particular attention this season, following first cut harvesting delays and poorer yields on the back of the wet spring.
With forage supplies tight and bought-in feeds expensive due to high straw prices, farmers need to be producing their own quality forage according to Graham Ragg, Senior Agronomist at Mole Valley Farmers.
He said: “The delays to first cut harvest are a big problem, as it usually provides the biggest and best quality yield.
“First cut should still be taken as soon as possible to encourage quality re-growth, alongside strategic use of fertiliser to get the best possible silage yields.
“In a ‘normal’ year, producers generally choose to reduce the acreage harvested after first cut has been taken, but this year, grazing more intensively after it has been harvested will maximise second and third cut acerage.”
Graham explained that two per cent per day in second cut yields is lost for every day fertiliser application is delayed after harvesting first cut.
He added that choosing the right after cut fertiliser is also important. “For second cut, about 75 units per acre of nitrogen (90kgs/hectare) is optimum,” said Mr Ragg.
“Potash is also key due to the fact every one tonne of silage taken off will remove 10 units of potash per acre (12kgs/hectare).
“Including sulphur in any bagged product is also recommendable, considering it can lead to a 30 per cent uplift in grass yields.”