The first cut offers us the opportunity to harvest quality AND volume! But there are some potential pitfalls. 

Everyone is aware that the protein and energy markets have exploded in the last two years. The cash flow is harder to maintain with this inflation. How do you lower your concentrate bills? To counter these increases, the best lever on your farm is to focus on harvesting quality forages to reduce your feed bills. We will look for a DIGESTIBLE forage (NDF not too high AND higher digestible NDF), less fibrous (ADF, NDF, lignin, uNDF) to fight these price increases. Make your cows work more efficiently! This way, you can reduce the purchase of concentrates. 

Another point of interest…MOWING HEIGHT. By mowing higher you increase the quality of the harvested material. The higher the quality, the fewer concentrates you potentially would have to buy! You also increase the speed of the plants’ regrowth, you increase the drying rate, you reduce the drying effect of the soil (in periods of drought, this is positive), you reduce the risk of contamination while reducing the maintenance costs of the machinery. All positive!  

Targeting 3 inches of mowing height, maybe 4 inches in certain conditions, would be very beneficial. Some people will say: “yeah that’s all nice and all but we will lose yield by doing that”… indeed, but we gain in quality! The lower part of the plant, which is not harvested, is of lower quality. 

Clark and Wood County, WI 1999-2000 


However, this relationship seems to be different from one cut to another according to this same study. The first cut is more affected than the others. Another reason to focus on getting machines ready for that 1st cut. 

It is these little details that will allow you to reach your targets. This way, you will reach your goal…make more money! 

Happy 2023 harvest!!! 


Jean-François Lemay, agr.
EXPERT in agricultural business strategy
Sollio Agriculture