Every year people ask us what options they have with a thin hay field in May. It is being asked with a lot more concern this year than it has been in years past. Here is the best option for a field that is in its last year or two of production. Take the first cutting for hay, let it grow back enough to burn it down with a herbicide and then plant it to a summer annual. I recommend one of the following summer annuals: Sorghum Sudan Grass, Forage Sorghum, Sudan Hybrid, Hybrid Pearl Millet. They all fit different needs and can provide an excellent source of very good quality forage. Here are some facts to think about.
A hay field will produce approximately 40% to 50% of its tonnage in the first cutting. That means you will only get 2 to 3 more tons of forage the rest of the year from the hayfield.
By harvesting the first cutting in May, terminating the field and planting the summer annual in June, you will be able to produce 8 to 12 tons of forage.
What are my options if I want to keep my hay field?
We only have one option to improve a hayfield after first cutting and keep the hayfield. That option is TeffGrass. I have had excellent experiences with Teff and I have had disasters with it. Teff grass can be inter-seeded at about 5 pounds per acre. If properly established it can produce an additional 1.5-3 tons of forage. It can be difficult to establish, but it is worth it when you do.