Following on from the 2020 harvest and some of the best yields ever recorded for Miscanthus, we are all looking forward to what the 2021 harvest will yield.
Thank you to all those who attended our ‘Miscanthus Growers Forum’ this month. Here we updated growers on the ‘Terravesta Harvest Hub’, our new innovative information management platform, where you will be inputting your harvest declaration this year. If you didn’t attend live, you can watch it on demand. Email email@example.com for more information.
Our growers will receive a letter soon which outlines the new harvest declaration process via the Terravesta Harvest Hub. Please get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you don’t receive the letter or have any issues.
Below are a few reminders about Miscanthus harvest best practice, and for the updated list of our contractors please click here.
When to cut
Ideally, when the cane is cut there will be little green left on the plant but in mild winters this may not be the case. The standing crop is unlikely to senesce more beyond the end of January so it should be cut as soon after this time as is possible, when ground conditions allow – compaction is our enemy!
As a rule of thumb cutting usually happens in January or early February. However, with the flooding we have seen, harvest timing will be dictated by field conditions. It’s critical to avoid damaging ruts and compaction as this is the factor that limits the productive life of a crop and if well managed the crop will perform for 20 years.
The self-propelled forager should be set to cut the canes to between 300mm and 450mm in length and leave the cane un-split length-ways.
It can be left for long periods in the swath to dry before baling. In an average spring, the sun and wind will naturally dry the swath without needing for it to be turned before baling. In a wet spring turning the swath will aid drying but it adds costs and increases harvest losses so it needs to be justified. If you think your crop needs turning please speak to us or your contractor.
While standing, the crop will have dropped most of its leaves on to the soil. Please do not be tempted to rake this up into the swath. The leaves contain high levels of silicon and chlorine that the power stations find undesirable. Also, the leaf mulch will be wet and may be contaminated with soil and stones which may lead to bale rejections. The leaf mulch should be left on the ground to suppress weeds and to return nutrients and organic matter back to the soil.
Baling should only be done when you are certain that there are no green stems lefts in the swath and the crops meet the moisture specifications. You or your contractor should check the moisture content of the first 4 or 5 bales, and aim for average moisture content of 14% or less.
Large 4×4 bales need to be 2250-2650mm in length, 1220-1320mm in height and 1150-1250mm in width. The smaller 4×3 bales should be 2500mm +/-150mm in length, 900mm +/-50mm in height and 1200mm +/-50mm in width. It’s crucial that you produce bales within these size specifications because of the automated bale handling system at the power station.
Ideally, the bales should be removed from the field using a bale-chaser. These machines are equipped with large, low ground-pressure tyres which reduce the risk of compaction and forming ruts. Most traditional flatbed bale trailers are equipped with super single tires which put much more pressure onto the ground (at least 5 times) than a bale-chaser. The extra contractor cost will be more than paid for by a more productive and longer lasting Miscanthus crop.
For more information, please contact the Terravesta team on 01522 731873.