Timothy Hay for Export

 Knowledge Nuggets | Fact Sheets | Research Papers

Knowledge Nuggets

  • Timothy is a perennial bunchgrass with a moderate-to-long (4 - 10 year) life span with excellent winter hardiness. It has a relatively shallow root system, is not drought tolerant and not recommended for production in all soil zones and/or environmental conditions.
  • Timothy is well adapted to a wide range of soil conditions where annual precipitation is at least 18 – 22”. It prefers cool, moist conditions and grows well on well-drained heavier textured black, grey, and dark grey soils and soils high in organic matter. It is fairly tolerant to flooding and grows well on poorly-drained or peaty soils.
  • It is well suited to an irrigation production system.
  • Weeds and volunteer crops are considered quality contaminants in timothy grown for the export market and it is critical that timothy be established in clean fields. Forage exports to Japan must be free of the Hessian Fly and the Agropyron plant species that can serve as its host. It must also be free of the Hordeum plant species. Careful planning of crop rotations and a sound weed control program using glyphosate products for 2 - 3 years prior to seeding timothy is essential.
  • Timothy has a very small seed (1.2 million seeds per pound of seed) and must be seeded very shallow into a firm – moist - weed free seedbed. Recommended seeding rates range from 2 - 5# per acre and good soil-to-seed contact is essential for good germination
  • Timothy has a very low tolerance to herbicide residues and seedlings can be damaged by inappropriate herbicide use. Due to food and feed safety concerns in the global marketplace it is imperative that any pesticides used be registered and used according to label. Good record keeping and sound knowledge of field histories will minimize residue issues.
  • Timothy has a high nutrient requirement – especially nitrogen. Soil testing is recommended to determine requirements and to ensure a balanced fertility program including nitrogen and phosphorus, potassium, and sulphur.
  • Timothy in the export market is used primarily as a source of dietary long fibre. It is evaluated by visual appearance of color, coarseness of stem, head size, and possible contaminants.
  • To obtain the maximum combination of quality and yield, the ideal time for harvesting is in the early bloom stage when the emerged head is covered with “velvet”.
  • Timothy is very susceptible to weather damage at harvest and rapid dry-down and curing is essential. Timothy should be cut with a mower-conditioner and laid in as wide a swath as possible to take advantage of natural winds and lay of the land for maximum drying. Raking into high-narrow swaths just prior to baling also aids in drying.
  • Timothy can be aggressively manipulated by reconditioning, swath turning, tedding, and/or raking to facilitate faster dry-down and rapid curing with minimal-to-no leaf loss.
  • Cutting height should be adjusted to be above the “dead bottom” and minimize the amount of “brown leaf” that could end up in bale downgrading quality.
  • Moisture levels at baling are critical. The crop must be below 10 – 12% moisture for safe processing and shipment in sealed containers. The “twist” test, moisture meters, and/or a microwave can be used to monitor moisture levels. The extent of “curing” can be determined by monitoring color change (green to dark brown) of the bottom node of the stem.
  • Bale packaging is important as not all processors can handle – or prefer, the same bale package. Growers are encouraged to develop a good working relationship with the processors to take advantage of their production and marketing expertise as well as processing capabilities.
  • The primary objective in harvesting timothy is cut, bale, and store as quickly as possible. Proper storage is crucial to maintaining quality and protection from weather and bleaching. Suitable storage demands attention to site selection and design and can range from temporary tarpping to hay sheds.

Fact Sheets

Alberta Transportation - Weight and Dimensions Policy - Hay bales

Export Timothy Hay Insurance

Guidelines for Estimating Timothy Hay Production Costs - For Export

Harvesting Timothy Hay for Export

Marketing Timothy and Other Compressed Hay - Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

Timothy Hay Production for Export - available in PDF format only

Research Papers

Improving The Nutritive Value of Timothy Through Management and Breeding
  For more information about the content of this document, contact Grant Lastiwka.
This information published to the web on December 1, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on March 2, 2017.

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