Persistence and productivity of orchardgrass and orchardgrass/alfalfa mixtures as affected by cutting height
Tracy, Benjamin F.
Jones, G. B.
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Cutting height is an important factor controlling the yield and persistence of grass swards harvested for conserved feed. The objective of this experiment was to determine the effect of four cutting heights (5, 10, 15 and 20 cm) on the yield, composition and productivity based on deviation from a size/density compensation line for swards of orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) and an orchardgrass/alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) mixture harvested nine times over three growing seasons. Yield was greatest for the 5 cm cutting height through the course of the experiment but ground cover of orchardgrass declined. Prior to the final harvest, tiller weight and density were determined. The 10‐, 15‐ and 20‐cm treatments fell on an apparent size/density compensation line with slope ‐1·779 (R2 = ·99; p = ·008) while the 5‐cm treatment fell considerably below that line indicating a reduction in productivity or relative persistence. Harvest at 10 cm appears to optimize yield while maintaining stand productivity in infrequently harvested orchardgrass swards.