Producing high quality hay depends upon cutting the forage plant at a vegetative stage and then getting enough dry sunny days to allow the plants to dry, ideally, to 15 to 18 percent moisture content before baling. While the frequent rainfalls we received earlier this year was good for forage growth, it also hindered quality hay production. Many hayfields were cut at a full bloom or later stage of development. Remember that for any grass or legume plant quality as measured by crude protein, energy and digestibility declines as the plant matures. It looks like hay supplies in terms of quantity are in good shape this year, but quality, particularly of first cutting hay, is generally low.
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