Harvest the Crop at the Correct Dry Matter
Crops intended for Alkalage production should not be harvested until crop dry matters exceed 70%DM. Zadoks scale wheat MINIMUM Z88. At this stage grains are almost mature. All grain will be at the hard dough stage and some will be impossible to penetrate with a thumb nail. Some grains will be starting to loosen in the daytime. Crop colour is golden. At this growth stage maximum dry matter yield is achieved and Alkalage forages produced at these dry matters contain the highest energy densities producible in the UK.
Avoid harvesting green material. Green material either in the crop or in weed species will contain sugars, which can react with ammonia and impair the conservation process. Consider using Roundup (glyphosate) to desiccate Alkalage crops prior to harvest, but be careful to adhere to label recommendations. Crops should not be sprayed with Roundup until the grain has reached a moisture content of 30% (approx. 70% plant DM). At this growth stage capillary action is suspended which in turn prevents the movement of assimilates and desiccant from the plant leaves and stems into the kernels. Maximum grain and plant dry matter yield has been achieved. The grains are physiologically ripe. The harvest window for Alkalage production is at least 3 weeks, and harvesting very dry crops is possible in light rain.