Time of harvest
Silage is always slightly lower in quality than the material that was ensiled. Therefore, the first step in producing high quality silage is to harvest high quality pasture.
The later a paddock is closed for silage, the faster pasture quality declines due to increased seed head emergence. Data collected from Waikato and Taranaki1 indicate that silage can be made six to seven weeks after closing without major loss in quality, when the final grazing was in the two weeks before balance date. When the paddock was closed later (two to four weeks after balance date), quality dropped within three weeks due to seed head emergence.
The general guideline for farmers throughout the country is:
|Close paddocks early and harvest silage no later than 35 - 40 days after the last grazing or when a maximum of 10% of the ryegrass seed heads have emerged.|
1Wrenn, N.R.; Mudfore, C.R. 1996. Making quality silage. Proceedings of the Ruakura Farmers Conference 48: 50-57.