Planning for the Second Hay Harvest

Richard Taylor, Extension Agronomist; rtaylor@udel.edu

 With a weather forecast indicating the likelihood of several inches of rainfall over the next five to seven day period, the soil surface moisture levels will be recharged so that hay producers either finished with, or about to begin their first hay harvest need to begin planning for the second hay harvest. In particular, as soon as the first harvest is removed from the field, nitrogen (N) fertilizer and the recommended amount of potassium (potash) and phosphorus should be applied to boost the yield potential for the second harvest cycle. Nitrogen, of course, is the key to promoting extra yield potential but potash also will be essential to help the forage grow well during the early summer high temperatures and with low available subsoil moisture. The latest research results from The Pennsylvania State University suggest adding 50 lb N/acre per ton of expected yield for orchardgrass, 60 lbs N/acre per ton of expected yield to timothy, and as much as 70 lbs N/acre per ton of expected yield to tall fescue. With all of these species, if drought conditions develop, the grower needs to carefully monitor any hay harvested for nitrate levels to prevent potential problems with nitrate toxicity.

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