“We need to have some system to predict what our yields will be and to compare fields. With experience, we can improve this method and our ability to estimate yield.” Bill Wilson, March 2018
Measuring and estimating your forage yields is easier than you might think! All you need to get started is a hula hoop or meter square, plastic or cloth bag, grass clippings, and hanging scale.
Step 1: Decide where to take yield samples.
Consider the types of forage you are estimating the yield for and take a minimum of 3 samples for each type.
When locating your sampling points, remember that a change in species composition affects yield. A sample with 30% alfalfa yields differently than a sample with 80% alfalfa.
Species maturity will affect moisture and thus yield. Timothy that is heading out might mean moisture closer to 30%. Lush immature alfalfa, that froths when ground in your palm, may be more like 75% moisture.
Step 2: Clip and weigh samples.
After measuring your hula hoop, or m square, lay it out in the sample area and clip all the forage in the hoop. Place sample in a plastic or cloth bag.
When estimating yield remember that livestock may avoid some species and if this is a grazing scenario, especially with conventional grazing versus rotational grazing, utilization may vary.
Be consistent with clipping height. Mimic what you are estimating, i.e. for grazing situations you may leave 8”; for haying you may leave only 2”.
From a grazing perspective, maturity of plant and expected livestock utilization may also affect the remaining stubble height and therefore your clip- ping height.
Step 3: Calculate forage weight per acre
Assuming your hula hoop or measuring device is one square yard, take your total weight measurement average in your acre sampled and multiply this by the 4840 square yards in an acre.