Alfalfa Yield and Quality Estimation Using Environmental Variables, and Improved Forage Quality Tests (FY 2009)
The environment, especially weather variables, affects forage growth rate, biomass production, and forage quality. However, most research has been done at one point in time, usually at the end of production. Hay producers need to be able to predict the yield and quality of a forage crop prior to harvesting so they can decide what harvest strategy is required to get a combination of yield and quality that is profitable, given the current market conditions. A more dynamic research approach using cumulative weather data leading up to the decision point is needed to provide reliable prediction equations for forage yield and quality. The weather data is available on the internet through the AgriMet System. AgriMet, a conjunction of the words "agricultural" and "meteorology," is a satellite-based network of automated agricultural weather stations
operated and maintained by the Bureau of Reclamation. Thermal time using growing degree days can be used to predict forage yield and maturity. These prediction equations can be localized to estimate present and near future yield and quality for individual hay producers.