While this year’s silage harvest is ahead of schedule, a lot of grass has headed out and quality is now beginning to deteriorate, according to Teagasc.

Dr. Siobhán Kavanagh Nutrition Specialist said Teagasc had recorded yields of up to 9 tonnes of settled silage with 75 DMD in mid-May in Kildalton. “This demonstrates the advantage of reseeded swards, good soil fertility and fertiliser programmes.”

However, she said that grass yet to be cut for silage may not return such yields. “Quality will depend on cutting date but anything that was taken out in mid May was 75 DMD, silage cut in late-to-mid May should still have been in the low 70s, but a lot of crops are headed out at this stage and quality is deteriorating by 2.5-3.0 units per week.”

She also said if crops have lodged and are lying in wet conditions, then DMD can drop by up to 9 units in one week. “These crops need to be harvested.”

Teagasc is describing 2014 silage yields as good, with excellent growth rate over the past months and leading to yields possibly one week ahead of normal.

“Grass silage can deliver yield and quality with the right plan in place.”

Dr. Kavanagh also noted that sugars are good on the bright days with cool nights. She said: “Muggy overcast days are less conducive to good sugar levels. Nitrates should be less of an issue. We normally talk of 2 units used per day. I think that was a lot higher this year.”

“In general, anything that was cut through mid-to-late May should be good quality,” she commented. This being the case, Teagasc has sent out notes to advisers in recent days on making silage in difficult conditions.