Submitted to: Forage Focus
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/6/2012
Publication Date: 8/30/2012
Citation: Coblentz, W.K., Muck, R.E. 2012. Prolonged field exposure after cut alfalfa receives rain reduces ensilability and nutritive value. Forage Focus. pp. 21.
Technical Abstract: Conserving high-quality alfalfa silage during unstable, inclement weather is a challenge. Within a series of experiments, rainfall events were applied to wilting alfalfa by both simulated (using a rainfall simulator) and natural methods across four different harvests. Based on our studies, the ensilability of alfalfa is affected only minimally by a single rainfall event shortly after cutting, as long as the ensuing weather supports rapid dehydration to an appropriate ensiling moisture. However, achieving good silage fermentation with cut-alfalfa subjected to prolonged exposure under less-ideal field-drying conditions appears to be far less likely. It also should be noted that these studies did not include assessments of bacterial populations associated with the forage; these populations also could be altered by rainfall events and subsequently affect silage fermentation.