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Forages Continue to Mature

By : Marc Sulc, Rory Lewandowski, CCA, Jeff Stachler

Forage stands that have survived this year continue to advance in maturity. Some producers in northeast Ohio were able to harvest last week, and many wet-wrapped the forage. Unfortunately, in other parts of Ohio, the rains have continued, and the forecast is not good for drying conditions this week. Although forages are ready for harvesting (see table below), keep in mind that harvesting when the soil is too wet and soft will do non-reversible compaction damage to the stand and will lower the productivity the rest of this year and into future years.

Below is the update on the neutral detergent fiber (NDF) levels of alfalfa standing in the field. A short video describing the method we used to estimate NDF in the field can be found at the following website : https://forages.osu.edu/videos

Look for the title “Estimating Alfalfa Quality in the Field”. Keep in mind that this method is for pure alfalfa stands.

Grasses will raise the NDF content. In central Ohio, grasses were fully headed this week. Pure grass stands and grass-alfalfa mixtures should be harvested first when the opportunity presents itself.

The following shows our NDF estimates in alfalfa fields from several counties in the past two days:

County Date Minimum %NDF Maximum %NDF Average %NDF
Auglaize 27-May 38.0 42.8 40.9
Clark 28-May 39.7 46.8 44.8
Wayne 28-May 41.4 44.9 42.9
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