Michael Garvey, CAFRE dairy specialist is advising farmers to walk their wholecrops to assess readiness for cutting by stripping the grain from a number of ears and squeezing the grain between your fingers.
He said: “When the grain texture has passed the sticky ‘brie cheese’ stage and is like a drier ‘soft cheddar’ the crop is ready for cutting (approximately 40% dry matter). Standing crops are at various stages of maturity:
• Crops that received a comprehensive spray programme remain green with the ears starting to turn yellow. On inspection the grain texture is not completely ‘soft cheddar’ but also produces some ‘soft brie’. The dry matter of these crops is in the low 30s. These crops will require further inspection but are probably not more than seven days from harvest.
• Crops that showed some disease are now at the correct stage and increasing in dry matter. With potential ‘drying rates’ up to 2.5 units of dry matter daily, there is a limited harvest window. If dry matters exceed 45% harvest the crop with equipment that incorporates a mill unit.
Gravey noted harvesting and silo management have an effect on the fermented silage. He said: “Direct cutting reduces grain loss. A long stubble gives a high energy silage, a short stubble gives a high fibre silage. Apply the additive at the correct rate for the crop dry matter and yield. Preferably chop to 25mm and fill a narrow pit that has side sheeting on the walls. Roll well during filling and then cover the crop with a good layer of grass before covering with heavy gauge polythene and tyres.”