Aspen Bibliography


The influence of harvest management and fertilizers on herbage yields of cool-season grasses grown in the Aspen Parkland of northeastern Saskatchewan

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Canadian Journal of Plant Science





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The influence of harvest management on hay and pasture herbage yield has not been assessed for most of the species and cultivars of recommended grasses under northern Aspen Parkland conditions. The Aspen Parkland extends from northern Alberta, across Saskatchewan and southeast to southern Manitoba. The harvesting of grasses for hay in this vast area is usually limited to two cuts. With alfalfa and bromegrass mixtures, maximum production was obtained with a first cut in late June or early July and a second cut the third week in August (Bittman et al. 1991, Nuttall et al. 1991). Optimum precipitation and temperature conditions appear to favor a first cut in the latter part of June, but inadequate mois- ture results in a lower-yielding second cut the third or fourth week of August. Farmers who have annual crops to harvest in late August or early September prefer to make hay early in August or will put cattle out to graze after the first cut.

Four-cut harvest systems have been used to simulate grazing to evaluate forage species for pasture (Lawrence 1978; Fairey 1991). The persistence of forage species in pasture stands has been evaluated using the mob-grazing technique (Mislevy et al. 1982; McCartney and Bittman 1994). This method of evaluating grass species was deemed superior to mechanical harvesting in estimating pasture per- sistence because of the animal effects of pulling, treading, manure deposition and reduced stubble height. The mob grazing study of McCartney and Bittman (1994) did not evaluate actual yield of the forage species, but used percent- age of ground cover to evaluate persistence and effective- ness of each species as a pasture crop. Grazing experiments to evaluate species for pasture production (Robertson et al. 1979; Ocumpaugh 1990) cannot be undertaken without a high investment in the management of animals. Mechanical cutting can be used more efficiently as a harvest manage- ment technique in evaluating a large number of forage species for pasture. Accordingly, a series of experiments was set out on Luvisolic and Deep Black Chernozemic soils to determine the effects of fertilizer and harvest manage- ment on recommended pasture crops on two contrasting soils in the Aspen Parkland region of northeastern