Following a favourable spring period for grass growth, unseasonably dry weather in April and May left some farmers on lighter soils troubled by lower covers and grass growth rates. This was compounded for many by 1st cut silage which left the average covers on many farms around 1900-2000 KgDM/Ha. However heavier paddocks excelled during this period with warm sunshine and retained soil moisture driving daily growth rates of more than 130 KgDM/Ha.
The dry spring effect on one light soiled project farm is evident here in the grass wedge graph below for the week measured 8th of May. This shows how grazed paddocks had slower regrowth rates that left them under the blue demand line, this would lead to many spring calving herds increasing concentrate fed to their cows to lower their daily grass demand.
Many farms who also had their 1st cut silage during this period would see slower aftermath regrowth and new paddocks to move their cows into fast disappearing. However as always during the school holidays, the rain finally did arrive and the much needed moisture end of May and early June has driven growth rates in KgDM/Ha/Day back up to the 80’s, 90’s and beyond from the parched 50’s and 60’s.
One issue with a prolonged dry period followed by a decent dollop of rain is the willingness of ryegrass to go stemmy and heady along with any undesirable grass species and weeds that may make up the sward. Careful management of grazing during this period is vital and you may need to adopt strategies such as pre mowing prior to grazing or cleaning up pastures using less productive stock following on, or as a last resort by topping. These measures will hopefully allow for fresh regrowth and better quality leafier material next time round.