Cool-season grasses, like this tall fescue, can be harvested as haylage to avoid rain damage.
Growers in Missouri often avoid cutting cool-season grasses in May because of rain, poor curing weather and potentially low yields. But harvesting boot- to early heading-stage grasses as haylage gives them the opportunity to put up exceptional-quality forage, says Eldon Cole, livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
“It seems, in early May almost every year, there are only a few good curing days in a row that you can put up hay without it getting wet,” says Cole. “Using haylage instead of dry hay is an option to beat the rain."
The two cuttings can be harvested with energy values at 60% and protein values in the 17% range. “Those values make it nearly as nutritious as some alfalfa hay,” says Cole. “A bonus is seedhead removal that may reduce fescue toxicity symptoms later in the summer. In other words, May hay is okay.”