Harvesting Fescue Hay
Tall fescue has a reputation of being poor hay, but most of the reasons for the reputation is the haymaker, not the grass.
Anytime a cool-season plant matures, forage quality drops rapidly. Crude protein will drop 0.5% per day from boot stage to mature seed stage.
The secret of quality fescue hay is adequate fertility & early cutting. Fescue hay should be cut no later than May 21 in this area. Cutting the grass for hay at this stage also results in lower levels of the endophyte in the hay.
Hay made late is not only low quality, but also may contain higher levels of toxins, which reduce animal performance. Cut fescue when it starts to show a few heads. Delaying haying to get a seed crop results in very poor quality forage.
Nitrogen rates on fescue should be about 100 pounds of actual nitrogen per year.
The best time to fertilize fescue is September to November.
Tall fescue hay can also be used as a summer grazing supplement. Research in Missouri shows that yearlings grazed in July and August showed good daily gains on fescue that was baled in small round bales in mid-May and left in the field.
MU XLPLOR Guidesheets:From the Kansas Forage Publications Database:
From K-State Research & Extension library: