Alfalfa forage is difficult to ensile due to low water-soluble carbohydrate content and high buffering capacity. The objective was to assess at Chapingo, Mexico, during the rainy season effects of combinations of harvest hours (08:00, 14:00), wilting time (0, 1, 2 h) and bacterial inoculants on the quality of silage made of alfalfa and orchard grass forage, made in 200-L containers. The experiment was conducted in three phases with two replicates per phase. Variables measured in freshly cut forage and silages were dry matter content (DM), buffer capacity, pH, and alcohol soluble carbohydrates (ASC). Silos remained sealed during 60 d, and additional variables measured in silage were aerobic stability, NH3 -N and in vitro disappearance of DM. In forage harvested at 14:00 h, DM and ASC contents were higher; pH and buffering capacity were not affected by harvest hour; in silages made of that forage, NH3-N levels were lower, while ASC contents and in vitro disappearance of MS were unaffected by harvest hour. Treatments with inoculants were less aerobic stable for 5 days when made of forage harvested at 08:00 h but more stable when made of forage harvested at 14:00 h. Harvesting at 14:00 h was advantageous as silage presented higher DM and ASC contents.
Part of the book: Forage Groups