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Harvest Time and Fertility Effects on Yield and Quality of Forage from Alfalfa, Hybrid Bromegrass and Their Mixture

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Document pages: 14 pages

Abstract: A field experiment with 24 treatments consisting of three perennial forage crops [alfalfa (Medicago sativa L. cv. AC Longview), hybrid bromegrass (Bromus riparius Rehm & Bromus inermis Leyss. cv. AC Success) and their mixture], four Cut 1 dates (approximately June 20, July 10, July 30 or August 20), and two fertilizer levels (unfertilized and fertilized) was established in late May 2014, on a Black Chernozem [Udic Boroll] silty clay soil. Forage dry matter yield [DMY], and concentration (g·kg−1 DM) of crude protein [CP], total digestible nutrients [TDN] and acid detergent fiber [ADF] data were collected over 3 years from 2015 to 2017. The fertilizer treatments were imposed in 2016 and 2017. Forage crops were initially cut at four Cut 1 dates, and again cut [Cut 2] in autumn (September 2 in 2015, November 7 in 2016 and October 5 in 2017). For all three forage crops, forage DMY usually increased when Cut 1 was delayed. Delaying Cut 1 reduced forage DMY for Cut 2. Total DMY (Cut 1 + Cut 2) for all three forage crops was highest from the combination of July 10 and late Autumn cuts. Alfalfa-bromegrass mixture produced higher DMY than bromegrass or alfalfa alone. Fertilizer application resulted in a significant increase in Cut 1 and total DMY for bromegrass. The CP concentration in Cut 1 forage usually declined as the forage crops matured. The CP concentration was highest for alfalfa, followed by alfalfa-bromegrass mixture, and much lower for bromegrass. There was little or no effect of forage crop maturity on the TDN and ADF concentrations in forage. The TDN concentration was higher and ADF concentration was lower in forage from alfalfa or alfalfa-bromegrass mixture than bromegrass. Fertilizer application significantly increased CP concentration for alfalfa-bromegrass mixture. Delaying harvesting for Cut 1 increased ADF yield and TDN yield until Late July, but CP yield generally decreased with crop maturity. The ADF yield and TDN yield were higher for alfalfa-bromegrass mixture than bromegrass or alfalfa alone, and CP yield was similar for alfalfa and alfalfa-bromegrass mixture but considerably higher than bromegrass. Fertilizer application increased CP yield and ADF yield for bromegrass and alfalfa-bromegrass mixture, and TDN yield only for bromegrass. In conclusion, total DMY (Cut 1 + Cut 2) was highest for a combination of Early July and Autumn cuts. Forage yield was highest for alfalfa-bromegrass mixture, followed by alfalfa and lowest for bromegrass. The CP and TDN concentrations were higher, and ADF concentrations were lower in forage from alfalfa or alfalfa-bromegrass mixture than bromegrass.

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