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Why does everyone figure the people who hay before full bloom are “jumping the gun”. When I start to see leaves drop off my alfalfa I figure I better get at er. But I get ridiculed by my neighbours who wait for full bloom or past. Should I be doing the same?
 

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30-40% bloom is when I start, weather dependent of course. Right now sitting at 60% and I am getting behind in my books. 2nd cut I wait till 50-60%. And who cares what the neighbors think, unless you have fantastic neighbors that pay your bills.
 

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As bloom goes up, protein goes down...guess it depends on what kind of hay you want. I consider full bloom to be coarse. I like to start around 20%, least you get some better, usually by the time I get to the last,, sometimes depending on weather, its getting pretty colorful.
 

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Usually aim for some flowers here, dad always used to wait for 50% bloom but depended on weather forecast. Most dairy guys here are cutting 10% bloom or sooner, better quality hay or haylage.


This year one of those years where nature isn't playing nice so going to be a lot of hay cut full bloom, go too long and it turns into stems with a few leaves.
 

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From 10% to a couple leaves falling off, if weather allows for starting early go IMO, otherwise your chances of weevils skyrockets and if you get crappy weather when its blooming then your left scratching your head what to do.
 

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10% bloom is the max I like - any more and quality starts dropping fast.. That being said, our first cutting is near 100% bloom due to the lack of good haying weather we had this spring.
 

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Same here 1972redneck. So I am going to throw this question out since it plays well with the thread. Wait and loose protein but have no rain or knock er down with a chance of rain close to the point of baling?
 

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Cut as soon as you see a flower from the road, trouble is June is traditionally a wetter month than July In Manitoba so a lot of times June cut hay is the worst quality. If your in a low rainfall area and are only planning on one cut I’d wait longer to get some more volume. It’s very dependent on your climate and what you need, dairy or beef quality? If you will get a second cut the earlier you cut the better the second will be.


If you can cut early and not get it rained on too much and get a good second cut you are doing absolutely everything right.
 

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Same here 1972redneck. So I am going to throw this question out since it plays well with the thread. Wait and loose protein but have no rain or knock er down with a chance of rain close to the point of baling?

I'd rather put up green sticks than black hay...
 

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Protein drops like a rock when bloom starts, when I had dairy cows I cut when the first flower opened. The dairys now cut in the bud stage in may,second crop now.
 

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I'd rather put up green sticks than black hay...
Our cows lick up the "black hay" and tend to leave the "green sticks". Lol

Having said that, trying to get hay to dry on top of mud doesn't work so good. Our hay is mid bloom and we're usually givin' er but it's a bit wet right now.
 

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Our cows lick up the "black hay" and tend to leave the "green sticks". Lol

Having said that, trying to get hay to dry on top of mud doesn't work so good. Our hay is mid bloom and we're usually givin' er but it's a bit wet right now.

There are a couple neighbors that cut some straight alfalfa this spring and had it a day away from being ready to bale when it started to rain. Over the course of a week, we got 2" of rain (extremely unusual for this area) and some 80° weather in between showers. That hay is literally BLACK - not brown, not dark brown, but black. I think a cow would have a hard time deciding between this hay and a snow bank for food...
 

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Protein drops like a rock when bloom starts, when I had dairy cows I cut when the first flower opened. The dairys now cut in the bud stage in may,second crop now.

Dairies around here chop and ensile all their first so they don't have to worry about rain or losing quality. Then they can focus on getting the best quality out of 2nd - 4th cuttings.


I just need a couple thousand head of beef cows so I can do the same...
 

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Dairies around here chop and ensile all their first so they don't have to worry about rain or losing quality. Then they can focus on getting the best quality out of 2nd - 4th cuttings.
This is us pretty much. Manage our closer to home straight alfalfa fields aggressively enough to chop first cut around 10% bloom. Although that was almost third week of May when it was 6" high this year. Thankfully it rained a few inches during the last week of May, so it was kinda only 20% bloom but 3x as high when we took it during the first week of June.

Our further away fields, and anything mixed or straight grass, gets done as reasonably soon after chopping is done. We are still cleaning up a few fields right now, may be able to take a second cut on the straight alfalfa in a few weeks. We've only taken a third every 5-6 years, never a fourth as far as I can remember. Life on the edge of the palliser triangle....
 
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