Grass update: Growth rates running above five-year average

Grass growth is finally beginning to take off for 2019, with grass growth rates running slighting above this time last year and also above the five-year average.

This is due to – as the Met Éireann data shows – air temperatures over the past week varying between 0.3° and 1.5° above normal level, along with high soil temperatures ranging between 1.5° and 2.6° above normal level.

Figures from PastureBase Ireland show that growth rates are strongest in Munster and Leinster at 63kg DM/ha/day and 62kg DM/ha/day respectively.

Meanwhile, grass growth rates in Connacht and Ulster are running slightly lower at 54kg DM/ha/day and 51kg DM/ha/day respectively.

Silage

Many farmers are now finding that grass growth has exceeded demand, which has presented an opportunity to take out bales for good-quality silage.

A careful eye should be kept on the weather, for a chance to mow any surplus paddocks ready to be cut.

A bright day is ideal to increase the sugar content of the grass – giving improved fermentation. Sunshine also promotes a more rapid wilt, decreasing the amount of water stored.

It is vital that grass is mown dry; mowing wet means reduced nutrients and a longer wilt time.

To speed up the wilting process, it is advised to scatter the grass straight after mowing. Aim for a grass dry matter (DM) of 30% at harvesting.

Spraying

If you are planning to take out a paddock(s) for spring reseeding, now is the time to do it.

However, the weather is set to remain showery over the next few days so the opportunities to spray will be minimal.

But looking to the weekend, the weather is set to improve slightly, as it will become mostly dry with light winds.

Along with spraying paddocks off for reseeding, now is a good time to target docks/weeds as they are at the right stage of control.

When selecting which product to use, make sure the selected product is designed to kill the specific weed you are spraying.

If spraying docks/weeds in the paddock be sure to check the label to see what the interval between spraying and mowing or spraying and grazing is.

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