Control weeds and optimise silage yields

Controlling weeds after first-cut silage is vital to optimise total silage yields this year, according to independent grassland specialist Charlie Morgan.

“With lower first cut grass yields expected due to the late, cold spring and silage stocks low or non-existent on most farms, farmers will be looking for big second cuts to make up any shortfall,” he says.

“Grass started growing three or four weeks later than normal in many parts of the UK due to low temperatures. This will significantly reduce yield of first cut crops, based on traditional cutting dates.”

But for early silage-makers second cuts could yield more than normal, as long as moisture is not a limiting factor. Applying fertiliser and controlling weeds post first cut will also help optimise yields.

“Docks are the main concern in silage crops as a 10% infestation will lead to a 10% yield loss – equivalent to one trailer load in 10,” he says.

The late start, April frosts and stop-start growth rates have reduced opportunities to spray weeds before first cut, says David Roberts, grassland technical manager for Dow AgroSciences.

“The next opportunity to treat docks is about three weeks after first cut when weeds are growing fast and are at the same growth stage.

“A translocated herbicide, which works right down into the long tap root, will kill the whole plant and allow grass to re-colonise the ground where they were growing.”

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