The record temperatures seen all over Europe this winter indicate that the grass quality for silage production should be of high quality. However prolonged high temperatures can cause issues when trying to produce the best quality grass silage possible. As the grass is growing more readily over the winter period there is greater risk that there will be more thatched material lodged around the roots. This means when it comes the cutting and ensiling extra care should be taken.
- Increased thatched levels in grass leys due to warmer winters and prolonged growth periods can cause issues when trying to produce quality grass silage. Thach comprises of dead grass, leaves, stems, roots and other material that becomes entangles in the grass steams as grows through the winter period. The problems this can cause are many and varied and main ones are listed below.
- Tends to limit both water and nutrients infiltrations to the ground, thus absorption of these elements by the grass mass
- Allows moss settlement, which compete with grass species for space and nutrients
- By limiting the absorption and infiltration of nutrients, this delays the absorption of fertilizers compounds and maintains high levels on the surface, that increase the concentration of nitrates in the ensiled forage
- Higher levels Lactobacillus acid bacteria can be found in thatched material probably due to the conducive conditions. Although this can be seen as a positive, it also suggests that the favorable conditions will allow undesirable bacterial strains also
Reducing the risk of thatched grass.
- Check the nitrates levels of the grass prior to cutting, if they are above 250- 500mg/Kg >500 Mg/kg wait one week before cutting.
- If thatched if material is visible, it’s recommended to scarify the fields prior to cutting.