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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Cell Wall Biology and Utilization Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #273495

Title: Best practices to hasten field drying of grasses and alfalfa

item Digman, Matthew
item UNDERSANDER, DANIEL - University Of Wisconsin
item SHINNERS, KEVIN - University Of Wisconsin
item SAXE, C - University Of Wisconsin

Submitted to: Extension Publications
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/3/2011
Publication Date: 3/8/2011
Citation: Digman, M.F., Undersander, D.J., Shinners, K.J., Saxe, C. 2011. Best practices to hasten field drying of grasses and alfalfa. University of Wisconsin Extension publication A3927. 8 p.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Rapid drying of hay and silage shortens the harvest window, enhances forage quality, and reduces the chance for rain damage. Forage generally has about 75% moisture when it is cut. This means the crop must lose 2.3 to 3 tons of water per acre (550 to 720 gal/acre) to dry to haylage at 60 to 65% moisture, or 5.7 tons/acre (1370 gal/acre) to dry to 13% moisture for hay when the yield is 2 tons of dry matter/acre. The best research-based practices to hasten drying of hay and silage are discussed. These practices are: 1) cut forage at a 3- to 4-inch height; 2) mechanically condition the crop (roll or impeller) to increase the drying rate; 3) lay the crop as wide as possible (at least 60% of cut width); and 4) rake or merge the crop into windrows to match the capacity of the harvester or baler.