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Wide Swathing

Forage conditioners were developed to speed the drying of forage for hay. When the shift was made from hay to silage, mowing into a narrow swath saved a trip over the field and still dried to silage moisture relatively quickly. It was discovered relatively recently that mowing grass into a wide swath allowed forage to dry fast enough to chop the same day it was mowed [GIS-21]. Mowing and chopping of forage on the same day eliminates forage quality overnight losses and can eliminate the risk of rainfall losses of quality by mowing on good days. Wide swathing to 85% or more of the cut width does not require any conditioning to reach silage moisture for same-day chopping. Wide swathing may require some equipment changes to match up mowing, merging and chopping on the same scale, but the improvement in silage quality is well worth it.