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Competency Area 7: Forage Harvesting Factors

PO 32. Describe the stage of development when small grains are ready to harvest as silage.

Small grain crops can provide good quality forage for silage, if harvested in a timely manner. Optimum harvest from a quality standpoint is the mid-boot stage. Yield will be approximately 40% lower than if harvested at a dough grain stage, but protein and fiber digestibility will be acceptable for lactating dairy cow forage. Small grains are more appropriate as a supplemental or emergency forage crop when forage supplies are low, since the relatively low yields with relatively high input costs make them economically marginal if adequate forage supplies are available from perennial forage crops.