Skip to main content
ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #217517

Title: Seasonal and Maturity Effects on Forage Quality of Alfalfa and Grasses

item Brink, Geoffrey

Submitted to: Wisconsin Forage Council Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/30/2007
Publication Date: 9/5/2007
Citation: Brink, G.E. 2007. Seasonal and Maturity Effects on Forage Quality of Alfalfa and Grasses. In: Proceedings of the Wisconsin Forage Council Teaching and Technology Conference, September 5, 2007, Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin. p. 21-24.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Relationships among maturity, yield, and quality have been widely documented in alfalfa and temperate grasses. Studies conducted at multiple locations determined the rate of change for different harvest periods and for different grass species. Alfalfa was harvested in the spring, early summer, late summer, and fall at early vegetative stage and every 5 days thereafter for 20 days. Ten grass species were harvested in the spring, summer, and fall at the two-leaf stage and every 4 days thereafter for 24 days. We found that alfalfa forage yield and quality were highest in spring, yield increased and quality declined most rapidly as alfalfa matured during the spring and early summer, and harvest in late summer could be delayed to increase yield because digestibility declined more slowly than in the spring and early summer. We also found that at grazing stage, few differences in spring leaf yield existed among grasses except smooth bromegrass, differences in total spring yield were greatly influenced by stem yield, particularly at hay stage, and quality of meadow fescue and timothy frequently exceeded that of the other grasses in summer and fall.