Cherney suggests that farmers looking to plant a pure stand of tall fescue look for the highest GRASVAL/acre data as reflective of the best combination of both yield and quality.
“In a mixed stand, most producers are looking for a high proportion of alfalfa, with the highest possible NDFD for the grass at harvest (NDFD is an estimate of digestibility potential in the crop; high NDFD is found in the diets of high-producing milking cows). High grass yield potential may not be desirable, as this likely indicates a more competitive grass. Harvest date is usually based on alfalfa maturity, not on the tall fescue; therefore, if choosing a fescue variety to seed with alfalfa, simply select the variety in a trial with the highest NDFD at spring harvest,” Cherney explains.
Cherney notes research to develop optimal timing for spring harvesting of grass crops to significantly impact fiber digestibility, particularly with alfalfa-grass mixes, is a next step in advancing crop management for milk production value.
Cornell Willsboro Research Farm Manager Michael Davis and his farm crew provided hands-on management and harvesting of these NNYADP-funded tall fescue variety trials.
To learn more about dairy and crop production in Northern New York visit the NNYADP website at www.nnyagdev.org.