Grass growth: Time starting to run out to build grass as growth rates dip slightly

Grass growth rates are slowly starting to decline on farms across the country as we head further into autumn.

Although in saying that, growth rates, at the moment, are still good and grass growth continues to exceed demand on farms.

However, as we edge closer to October, growth rates will naturally decline further, so farms that are falling behind (in terms of building grass) should be looking to make up for lost time to ensure that there is grass available for the latter part of this year and for next spring.

In terms of average grass growth rates, PastureBase Ireland figures are showing 54kg DM/ha in Ulster, 55kg DM/ha in Leinster, 51kg DM/ha in Connacht and 53kg DM/ha in Munster.

Some farms in various parts of the country have reported growth rates much higher – which should be taken advantage of.

To prolong the grazing season, farmers should have been building grass covers since last month, in order to have grass supplies for cows for the latter part of this year and for next spring.

According to figures from Teagasc, farms stocked at 2.5 LU/ha should be aiming to have an average farm cover (AFC) of 1,000-1,100kg DM/ha by mid September.

Farms stocked at 3.0 LU/ha and 3.5 LU/ha should be aiming to have an AFC of 1,100kg DM/ha and 1,200kg DM/ha by mid September respectively.

For farms that didn’t start building covers when grass growth rates were high in August, then they should be looking to reduce demand over the coming weeks if their AFC is not where it should be.

A couple of options for farms to reduce demand is by increasing supplementation through the introduction of concentrates and/or good-quality silage; removing under-performing/empty/lame cows from the milking platform; or by bringing in zero-grazed grass from an outside block back home to feed.

Fertiliser deadline

The last date for spreading chemical nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P) is midnight on Monday, September 14.