Our second-cut silage is in and covered - in far from ideal conditions but, having said that, I have often seen it worse. It’s funny how, in poor conditions, everyone has a different opinion on how best to put in silage. Some, like myself, prefer the snatch-and-grab approach. Try to mow it as dry as possible and just lift it straight away.

Others will proclaim that if grass is mowed dry, a shower of rain on the rows will do no harm and still like to leave it to the next day before lifting. I know leaving grass lie for a while after mowing can sometimes help the ground dry out if not the grass and potentially improve trafficability, especially on heavy soils, but I suppose that theory very much depends on how much rain actually falls on the rows.

Mine was a snatch and grab, Wednesday two weeks ago.

Weather forecast

I had been watching about five different weather apps for the previous 10 days. Each one seemed to be giving something different and seemed to change every couple of hours. Finally, I got a day that seemed to be mostly dry, a bit dodgy in the morning, but would blow up into a lovely warm dry evening with a good drying breeze and thankfully that is what happened.

My contractor started mowing around 4 o’clock, raking around 6 o’clock and we were finished lifting before 12 o’clock with barely a mark on the ground. If this type of grass had of been lifted 30 years ago with the double chop, we would have been delighted with ourselves, but unfortunately we are now used dealing with wilted, low dry-matter grass and lifting completely green grass, even if it was mowed dry, just doesn’t cut it.

September cuts

I can remember back 30 years ago when we were still putting in our own silage with the double chop. I’m not completely sure if it was September 1992 or 1993, but all I do remember was it was extremely wet.

I do not know how many starts it took to get the second-cut silage in or how many times the cover was put on and took off the pit. But I do know it was September because I was back at school and spent many afternoons watching the clock and counting the hours to when I would be home to get drawing silage.

A 1985 Ford 7610 Q cab cutting, with one of the red New Holland harvesters. A 1978 Ford 4600 Q cab drawing 10x6 Fraser silage trailers and always a sledging match to get the sides put on them. Looking at those trailers now, you would be forgiven for thinking a strong set of handles on the front and they’d make a decent wheelbarrow. Then there was a 1980 8011 Zetor Crystal on the buck rake.

One thing that really sticks in my mind about that harvest is I had to keep a spade in the tractor cab with me when I was drawing in. Reason being every time the harvester hooked off the trailer it sank into the wet ground.

So, I had to get out and dig a slight hole around the towing eye of the trailer to allow me to hook it on. Once hooked on, I would get back out and fill it in. Thankfully, land is just not quite that wet this year yet.