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A36—Lancaster Farming, Saturday, May 16,1981
LANCASTER Was there more
ryelage harvesting than usual in
Lancaster and surrounding
counties this year?
If the number of choppers - both
pull-type and self-propelled -
spotted in fields recently is any
indication, the cutting of rye for
silage is definitely up.
John Baylor, Extension
agronomist at Penn State, echoes
“I haven’t seen any figures or
data but I would expect that due to
last season’s drought and the
resulting shortage of feed, a lot
more farmers planted rye as a
winter cover for chopping this
spring,” he said.
With the double-cropping .of the
rye in com fields, these farmers
not only got added production
efficiency out of their fields, but
got a head start on the refilling of
silos, whose drought-diminished
levels were drawn down more than
usual over the past winter.
“Rye is about the best cover crop
for this area,” according to
Baylor, “because it is more
resistant to atrazme than the other
But there are a couple of tricks
of-the-trade that are important in
the harvesting of the ryelage,
Ftjfcthe rye should be har
vested «|iir the proper stage of
The best time for
get top protein and
with a "mower-conditioner to aid
the wilting, is just before the rye
heads. It then can be wilted to
about 55 percent moisture before
After the rye hea%r its value as
a feed drops
along with its nirtaHeßy the herd.
Also, since rye ..is a hollow
stemmed plant, it’s recommended
that good silage-making-practices
be followed, including a fine chop,
effective packing and fast, proper
sealing in the silo.
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Ryelage harvesting on upswing
The level of wilt needs to be
watched since over-wilting causes
an excessive loss in weight and
makes good packing even more
As far as the feeding is con
cerned, ryelage likely will need to
be supplemented according to the
nutritive value of a particular
harvest. It provides higher protein
than com but less than alfalfa
certainly. It is also lower in energy
In general, cereal crops har
vested as silage have lower
nutritive value than the legumes
and com and will need to be sup
Will the harvesting of -ryelage
become an increasing trend in the
There are several indications
that it may.
First, last year’s drought
plagued growing season showed
that the harvesting of rye or other
cereal crops can provide a good
head start at replenishing supplies.
As more and more emphasis is
placed on preventing soil erosion,
the importance of rye as a winter
cover sandwiched between com
crops will correspondingly in
Finally, today’s farm economics
more and more are dictating that
existing land resources be utilized
as efficiently as possible. And
double-cropping rye and corn is
one way to get that added value.—
This harvesting scene of chopping rye for drought-diminished feed supplies. Increasing
silage was quite common in Lancaster and concern over soil erosion is also boosting rye
surrounding counties recently as farmers as a winter cover between corn crops,
sought to get a head start on replenishing their
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