Optimal Fertilizer Application Timing for Hay Fields

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Whether you’re using commercial blends or manure, shortly after first cut is a great time to fertilize forage fields.

But, wait, aren’t perennial crops low-input? Top notch hay producers will tell you that fertility is paramount to getting top production out of a hay corp and to ensure maximum persistence of that stand.

In this interview, Glenn Friesen, provincial forage specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, highlights the giant numbers of N, P, K and S mined from the soil when taking off a hay crop. When looking at adding these essential nutrients back in, the hay composition — that of mostly grass or mostly legumes — is going to dictate the nutrients you focus on most and the rate you apply. While early is good for N, soft spring soils can mean tractor ruts really muck up a field. In between first and second cut works for most hay types and most types of fertilizer, even manure, as Friesen explains below.

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