First Cut Silage Crops Exceptionally Heavy

Contractors in the mid Ulster are confirming to Farming Life that crops of first cut silage made this week are yielding exceptionally well.

“We have cut 400 acres of grass to date with most fields averaging between 8 to 10 tonnes per acre,” explained Alan Ewing, from AJ Ewing Contracts.

“This has been an exceptionally good grass growing year. Farmers are more than happy with the forage yields they are getting and, what’s more, grass quality is holding up well.”

But as the week wore on, heavy showers became more of a nuisance – particularly on Thursday – with farmers and contractors only pushing on with the work, when the weather permitted.

Provita’s Tommy Armstrong has told Farming Life that the next seven days will be critical in determining the overall yield and quality of most first cut silages made in Northern Ireland this year.

“Many crops of grass are fast approaching the heading stage. And as the days tick by farmers will have to balance cutting now to give a crop with low dry matter but higher digestibility value verses delaying cutting and getting higher dry matter but lower digestibility value, there is no right answer! However if cutting is delayed and weather does not improve then crops will be low in dry matter and low in digestibility.

“Mown grass that gets wet prior to ensiling can be difficult to ferment. Ideally get it dry as practical but don’t leave it too long as sugars will leach out over time. One way of ensuring a good fermentation is to apply a proven additive such as Advance+ which has been shown to work even when sugars are as low as 1%. Due to its combination of lactic and acetic acid it will help minimise the impact of crop spoilage. We can test grass for DM, nitrates and sugars with 24h to help advise farmers on the viability of ensiling crops ”.