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It is what it is

Progressive Forage Editor Lynn Jaynes Published on 01 January 2018

Clichés we should drop from our everyday speech might include, “It is what it is.” I actually used that in an email today and thought, “That’s a stupid statement.” It’s a five-word waste of breath, a 16-character waste of keystrokes. Of course it is what it is – what else would it be?

Then there’s the cliché “To be honest with you …” That would imply I haven’t been honest thus far. What I really mean to say is, “Let me take the varnish off this and give it to you straight, with slivers and all.” But really, shouldn’t I have been straight all along?

Another one I hear in business conversations is, “Going forward …” Don’t we always go that way? Does anyone ever go backward? If we did, we’d have to come up with a new one – perhaps “retracting rearward …” Yeah, that’s just not trendy.

And if anyone ever uses the cliché “Hey, can I pick your brain a minute?” it probably means they’re too lazy to look up the information themselves.

Having said that, let me pick your brain a minute….

At the recent Western Alfalfa and Forage Symposium in Reno, Nevada, participants were asked to respond to a clicker survey. (And can I just say, this is one of the best conferences a forage grower can attend all year – bar none.) Here were some of the questions, so let’s see what you know.

And I didn’t put the answers right after the questions because, with all due respect, you may be tempted to cheat. (Anybody who says “with all due respect” is about to disrespect you.) Let’s see if you’ve “moved the needle” (not related to the needle in the haystack) on your forage quality IQ.

Question 1

What’s the most powerful mechanism growers can use to influence forage quality?

A. Variety selection

B. Irrigation management

C. Fertilizer application

D. Pest management

E. Cutting schedule

F. Use of preservatives

Question 2

When considering economics and the yield/quality trade-off, which is the most important goal?

A. High yield

B. High quality

C. Long stand life

D. Stand density

Question 3

Forage quality is most significantly affected during which operation?

A. Cutting

B. Curing

C. Raking

D. Baling

E. Storage

Question 4

Maturity at harvest has a powerful effect on quality because:

A. Flowers increase in density with maturity and are very low in quality.

B. Weight of stems is increasing, and each stem is increasing in lignin, becoming less digestible with maturity.

C. Soluble carbohydrates increase with maturity.

Question 5

Any method to enhance the drying rate of stems may:

A. Reduce protein

B. Increase fiber

C. Reduce digestibility

D. Improve/maintain quality due to reduced respiration

E. Improve/maintain quality due to increased respiration

Question 6

At the same harvest interval, which would tend to have the highest quality?

A. Dormant varieties

B. Semi-dormant varieties

C. Non-dormant varieties

D. Variety doesn’t matter

Question 7

How do aphids impact forage quality?

A. Reduce leaf-to-stem ratio

B. Lower protein

C. Create palatability issues

D. Increase fiber

E. Reduce digestibility

How’d you do? I’m curious to know whether you agreed with the answers (as presented by forage specialists Dan Putnam, Glenn Shewmaker and Shannon Mueller). We could always visit about it as “my door is always open.” (Except, of course, when it’s closed – but hey, it is what it is.)  end mark


1. Cutting schedule.

2. Yield, but with explanation: If you don’t have hay to sell, you can’t pay the bills. However, the buyer should be paying for quality and, unfortunately, that’s not always happening. Yield is the economic driver as long as minimum quality criteria are met for some market.

3. Raking is the biggest opportunity for leaf loss, which is unrecoverable.

4. Stems affect quality significantly and increase dramatically during the last 10 days of maturity.

5. D is correct.

6. Dormant varieties are slower-growing, so the leaf-to-stem ratio is higher.


7. It’s more of a palatability issue.

Lynn Jaynes
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