Archive: Autumn silage

Published 12 September 14

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Autumn silage

As the good weather continues, grass growth results have shown high rates in some areas this week. You need to clear up this excess grass to avoid taking too much into the winter and effecting grass quality and quantity next spring.

If neither grazing nor deferred grazing is an option, it may be useful to take a silage cut at this stage, but you need to take into account that:

  • There now is less fibre in the grass as, unlike in the spring, it is not about to head
  • The crop will be wetter. There is a shorter wilting time, due to the short day length. In this respect, cutting now is the equivalent of cutting in March
  • Much of the country is experiencing good conditions, with plenty of sunshine, favouring silage making and reducing the risk of cutting in September
  • Ground conditions permitting, spread full width with the mower or ted right up behind the mower. The stomata in the plant closes after about five hours reducing moisture release, so getting it spread straight away exposes more of the grass to the drying wind and sun before it closes
  • Remember, sugars are not the same as in spring, due to shorter periods of day light. To compensate for this affected on fermentation appropriate additive will be necessary. Also, at this time of year the sugars are pushed down to the roots for root maintenance
  • High protein levels combined with low sugar levels, also affect fermentation, making the appropriate additive crucial
  • August and September are peak times for clover fixation and root breakdown releasing nitrogen into the system
  • Watch out for crown rust which appears at this time of year and reduces quality
  • Making silage also costs money. So ask yourself: Do you really need it and how are you going to utilise it?
  • Leaving the grass will also cost money in loss of potential next spring.

In conclusion, when making autumn silage wilt for as long as you can and cut a clean crop, avoiding crown rust. Make sure you don’t incorporate dead material from the base of the sward, and it is important to use an appropriate additive.