3 May 1996

Analysis can tell best time for silage cut

DELAYING silage cuts due to slow grass growth may still fail to use up fertiliser or increase dry matter yield, warns Mark Harrison of Farmlab, Leicester.

"Plants know the optimum time to produce seed heads due to the angle of the sun, so heading can only vary by a few days," he says. "Taking a cut early enough in the year may be better than risking losing digestibility."

A grass analysis tells where the crop is in relation to what the producer wants from it. The cost is little at £18 a test when compared with the value of the crop, he claims.

Recent grass tests suggest that the crop is immature and protein levels are high, adds Mr Harrison. This season the protein has had nowhere to go because lack of moisture is restricting growth.

"On the positive side the long-range forecasts are for dry weather," he says. "So at harvest it may allow more crop drying, reducing the risk of excess nitrogen damaging the fermentation."

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