Silage weather in store with +20° temperatures expected
It finally appears that the weather is after turning for the better and a period of good weather is forecast for the coming days.
Today (May 24) is set to be another warm day and temperatures of 18-21° are expected in light northerly winds. However, after a sunny start, it will become a bit cloudier in the afternoon, with the chance of an isolated shower, Met Eireann states.
Moving into tonight, Met Eireann says that there will be some showers for a time, but these will dry out later in the night.
Friday is anticipated to be breezy with a mix of sunny spells and cloudy periods. The best of the sunshine will be in the western half of the country.
In addition, clouds will tend to build in more eastern areas and some rain showers are likely to develop in coastal areas in the afternoon and evening.
Temperatures in the mid teens along eastern coasts are forecast, but they’re expected to increase to 19-22° elsewhere. Some showers are also predicted in eastern coastal counties overnight, but it will be dry elsewhere.
Moving onto the weekend, Saturday and Sunday will be close, humid days with a mixture of warm sunshine and some cloudy periods.
Temperatures will be in the low twenties at least, Met Eireann says, in many places. But in some coastal areas, onshore breezes and/or patches of sea fog will tend to keep values in the teens.
The sunshine will become hazy in nature at times and some showers will develop – some thundery, with southern and eastern areas most at risk of these.
Similar weather is expected to continue into Monday and temperatures are expected to sit in the low-to-mid twenties. It will be sunny for most, but some showers are likely in the afternoon or evening in southern areas.
According to Met Eireann, the trend is for mainly dry, mild or warm weather up to the middle of next week.
Quality versus quantity
At farm level, the primary challenge for farmers is to maximise silage yield, while – at the same time – achieving the target silage quality for the production system on their farm.
According to Teagasc, the capacity to maximise DM (dry matter) yield per cut is limited by the effect of growth stage on grass quality.
Delaying harvest to ‘bulk up’ crops will increase DM yield. However, digestibility declines sharply after grass heading date such that the total yield of digestible feed in the crop does not increase further; removal of the crop is necessary to promote new growth.
Therefore, it’s critical to match what you are feeding your silage to with the cutting date; high-production animals – such as cows in milk over the winter months – will require high-quality silage (+75 DMD), whereas dry cows will have a lower nutritional requirement and average-quality silage (69 DMD) will be sufficient as long as the diet is balanced.
Work carried out in Teagasc Grange indicated that delayed cutting date has a negative consequence on the quality achieved.
The work illustrated that quality falls rapidly after grass heading date (0.5 DMD units per day) and when it comes to producing high DMD silage, farmers should aim to mow as the seed heads begin to emerge.
To bulk up feed reserves, a second cut may also be required this year and it’s imperative that cutting isn’t delayed. Failing to have your first-cut silage cleared by early June could create unnecessary difficulties when it comes to saving the second cut.
For farmers saving silage over the coming days, it’s important to test grass sugar content in advance of silage cutting. Sugar is the most important measure of ensilability and this test should be available through your local advisor.