Producing Ryegrass Baleage – A Twelve-step Checklist

Michael E. McCormick, Han, Kun-Jun, Bardwell, Ronald D.  |  2/24/2011 10:45:01 PM

Wrapped bales in six layers of high UV light-resistant white stretch plastic can be stored more than six months if there is no obvious torn plastic.

1. Select a late-maturing variety (unless ryegrass is over-seeded on summer hay fields).

2. In late winter or early spring, clip or graze pasture to 3-4 inches in height and apply 60-70 units of actual N fertilizer (200 pounds ammonium nitrate).

3. Harvest at the boot to early-heading stage of plant maturity.

4. Field-dry forage (wilt) until moisture content is in the 40-60% range (usually 4-48 hours depending on drying conditions, windrow thickness, etc).

5. Reduce bale size compared to conventional hay bales (4’x4’ or 5’x ’).

6. Use plastic or untreated twine (rodenticides in conventional hay twine may cause plastic deterioration).

7. Consider use of inoculants in low-sugar crops.

8. Wrap bales in six layers of high UV light-resistant white stretch plastic.

9. For individually wrapped bales, use bale handlers to move bales (avoid over-squeezing bales; grasp bales on end where plastic thickness is greatest).

10. Store wrapped bales on a clean, well-drained site (place on ends for long-term storage).

11. Allow a minimum of 30 days' storage prior to feeding.

12. Separate baleages harvested at different maturities and core-sample for laboratory analysis.

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