By Dwane Miller, Extension Educator, Agronomy, Penn State University
While many parts of Pennsylvania have yet to take a cutting of hay in 2018, I was on a farm in Chester County in mid-May where first cutting alfalfa/orchardgrass was made the previous week. As you head to the field this year, it’s important to pay attention to cutting height in your hay crop. One of our goals as farmers is to maximize our yield; however, cutting a hay crop too low can lead to several negative issues.
The introduction of the disk-type mowers (discbines) allows for cutting very close to the ground. I’ve seen many fields that have been “scalped” right to ground level. This differs considerably from the older sickle bar mowers (haybines), whose technology required some level of stubble height remain. Stand longevity can be compromised when the crop is cut too low. As a general rule, alfalfa can be cut closer to the ground than our grass hay crops.… Continue reading