Fall cut and spring baled: Usually a method of harvest reserved for late maturing varieties. In Ontario product is cut around the end of October and left in the swath on a 5” stubble until spring. It is then raked once and baled often on the same day as it will dry very fast. Harvest moisture is usually 8-10 %. Product has a number of uses.
Fall cut and fall baled: Usually a method of harvest reserved for early maturing varieties. In Ontario product is generally cut mid to late September to first week of October. Weather permitting it will dry in 3-4 days to below 18% moisture. An early maturing variety will reach physiological maturity in the latter part of September and is safe to cut without harm to the overwintering root reserves.

Feed Use

TMR feeding dairy cows: Either fall or spring harvested material falls into this category. Product makes an excellent dairy cow feed for dry cows. Some dairy farmers prefer the Fall cut and baled, however Spring baled appears to work equally well. The grass is very low in potassium (~0.1% spring harvest and 0.4-0.8 fall harvest). Protein range 4-5 % and neutral detergent fibre range 70-80 %. It is considered a sharp fibre which aids rumen function. The lower potassium levels aid at preventing ketosis

Bedding

Pack Barn: Spring harvested switchgrass makes a premium bedding for pack barns and tie stalls. The straw is very absorbent and has a wonderful ability to absorb and release moisture. The bedding stays dryer and lasts longer than other bedding materials. Retting in the field over winter makes the material easier to grind in a tub grinder to any desired length.
Free Stall Mats: Spring harvested switchgrass can be ground through a fine screen 1/4 to 3/8 dia. This produces a soft easily spread material for use on top of free stall mats. The product is very absorbent and prevents abrasive injury to the cows. The hocks of cows are often scruffed as they try to stand up on a bare or wood shavings covered mat. The short cut product works very well in liquid manure systems and is better for the soil than wood shavings or sand bedding.
Chickens: Spring harvested switchgrass can be pre chopped with the new high density balers or ground and blown into your barn with a tub grinder to desired length. Material is highly absorbent and dries quickly on top when there is good ventilation. This prevents foot and leg injury as bedding retains its structure throughout the growing term.
Horses: Spring harvested switchgrass can be chopped and dedusted to preferred lengths and used as bedding in horse stalls. Material is very soft, absorbent, durable and easy to scoop wet areas from stall. Material provides superior traction and footing for the animal as the waxy coating on the straw has been naturally retted away. It also remains in place better under the horses than short flat wood shavings that are easily displaced by the horses.
Hogs: Spring or Fall harvested switchgrass can be used for bedding organic and naturally housed hogs. Material can be used right out of the bale in a variety of straw lengths. The material creates a natural environment that is absorbent, durable and comfortable for hogs of all age classes.

Mulch

Mushrooms Substrate: Sring or fall harvested switchgrass makes an excellent source of fibre to produce mushrooms. Used alone or mixed with other straw switchgrass acts as a strong durable fibre allowing for aeration of the substrate mixture.
Landscape Mulch: Spring harvested switchgrass makes a beautiful natural landscape mulch. It holds moisture for the surrounding plants and shrubs while slowly adding carbon and organic structure to the soil below. Makes a very good weed suppressant.
Strawberry Mulch: Spring or Fall harvested switchgrass has become a favorite of Strawberry producers. Due to is low nitrogen content and strong fibre it has the ability to last throughout the winter as insulation and then makes excellent mulch between the rows during the growing season due to its ability to degrade at a much slower rate than other straw mulch.

Industrial Use

Compostable containers: Spring or fall harvested switchgrass can be put through a pulping process and pressed into various shapes to make compostable dinnerware and packaging of all kinds. It can, unlike plastic be turned back into organic compost for the soil saving landfill space and protecting the environment.

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