The height and time of day the crop is cut, as well as the nitrogen fertilization level, impact the nutrient content of bermudagrass hay, University of Tennessee researchers report.

At two locations over two growing seasons, they applied nitrogen at zero, 30 and 60 lbs/acre. The crop was cut at 7 a.m. or 7 p.m. at 15 or 20” heights in June, July and August.

Most quality differences between treatments were small, they report. Among the notable differences, short cutting resulted in higher protein than tall cutting (9.8 vs. 8.5%), lower ADF (33.9 vs. 35%) and NDF (65.6 vs. 67.6%), and a higher sugar content (6.3 vs. 5.7%). Afternoon cutting resulted in more sugar (6.5 vs. 5.5%) and water-soluble carbohydrates (8.9 vs. 7.6%) than morning cutting. The high-nitrogen application rate increased sugar content from 5.5 to 6.3% and carbohydrates from 7.7 to 8.7% compared with the no-nitrogen treatment.

Read more from Hay & Forage Grower:

Hay Growers Think Big About Alfalfa Small Squares

Plant Your Perennial Forages Now

Midwestern Alfalfa Hay Prices Slide in July