There is a saying that a wet and windy May will fill the barns with corn and hay. So if the last few days are anything to go by, farmers should be optimistic for a good harvest.
However, there obviously weren’t too many farmers making silage at the time that saying originated, because a wet and windy May is anything but ideal for silage making.
The bad news is that the forecast for the coming week isn’t great either, with more thundery showers predicted across the country.
That’s not ideal for farmers with silage ready to cut and with such a good outlook for grass growth, it’s likely that these silage fields will be increasing in quantity, but dropping in quality by the day.
However, the majority of farmers won’t be planning to cut until the end of the month at the earliest, so they won’t be in too much of a panic.
Most will be content to see fields increase in bulk, as the majority of silage produced on dairy farms will be for dry cow feed.
This type of weather is ideal for grass growth and while daytime temperatures for the coming week will be in the mid-teens, the prediction for grass growth is still quite high.
Farmers with a high proportion of their farm closed for silage will need to be looking to get some of this cut and back growing as soon as possible in order to reduce demand for grass.
Well-fertilised farms may continue to grow in excess of 70kg/ha/day for the coming week
On some farms, the demand has risen to above 75kg/day, because a high proportion of the farm had to be skipped over for silage.
While well-fertilised farms may continue to grow in excess of 70kg/ha/day for the coming week, it’s not going to stay at that level forever, so I would be inclined, if given a half chance, to cut some of these paddocks for silage and get back to a more sustainable demand.
If this means risking getting caught in a shower, then so be it.
I am not suggesting cutting all of the silage when the weather is dodgy - this advice is aimed at those with very high demand who should try to cut out one or two paddocks to reduce it.
Put it this way, it would be better to have some wet silage and avoid a grass deficit in two or three weeks time than to have dry silage but a massive hole in the wedge.
If silage is wet at harvest time, make sure there is space to capture all seepage, from both pit and bales.