Submitted to: American Forage and Grassland Council Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: December 16, 2013
Publication Date: January 3, 2014
Citation: Brink, G.E., Digman, M.F., Muck, R.E. 2014. Field drying rate differences among cool-season grasses harvested for hay. Proceedings of the American Forage and Grassland Council Conference. Paper No. 17. Technical Abstract: Making high-quality, cool-season grass hay is a challenge, due to the field drying time needed to reach the appropriate moisture content and the high probability of rain in the spring when hay is typically produced. This study was conducted to determine if cool-season grasses with different yield potential and physical characteristics have different drying rates. Inflorescence-stage meadow fescue, orchardgrass, and reed canarygrass were cut to a 4-in stubble and placed in an 8-ft swath with a self-propelled, 16-ft rotary disc mower equipped with a steel roll conditioner (3-mm gap) at 11:00 am on three consecutive days of early June in each of two years. Moisture and nutritive value were measured hourly from 11:00 am until 4:00 pm of the day of harvest, and over the same time period of the next two days. Despite large differences in yield and leaf:stem ratio, there were few differences in drying rate among the grasses (mean of 0.229, 0.150, and 0.119/h on the first, second, and third days, respectively). Year-to-year variation may result in one grass having a lower initial moisture content at harvest like that observed in meadow fescue, which would allow earlier processing into silage on the first day of curing. The results of our study, however, indicate that species will not influence the drying rate of cool-season grasses harvested at the same relative maturity.