Topics : Species and Forage Variety Trials : Species Fact Sheets : Chicory
Additional chicory information via the Forage Information System (FIS)
Chicory Harvest Management
Correct grazing management is essential to maximize the life (5-7 years) of the chicory stand and maintain forage quality. Spring seeded chicory can be grazed after 80 to 100 days depending on climatic conditions. Research at the USDA Pasture Laboratory found that Puna chicory can yield over 3 tons per acre during the seeding year. Chicory production is optimized under rotational grazing management. Depending on time of year, a rest period of 25 to 30 days between grazings is best for chicory persistence and performance. A stubble height of 1.5 to 2 inches should remain after grazing.
After the seeding year, chicory will grow vigorously and attempt to produce stems in the late spring and early summer. Stubble heights greater than 1.5 inches or rest period longer than 25 days can allow stems to bolt (period of rapid stem growth). Once chicory stems have bolted, the production potential of chicory will be reduced for the remainder of the grazing season or until the stems are mowed. Grazing practices which do not allow the chicory flower stems to exceed a six inch height in late May, before they are grazed, and grazing to a 1.5 inch stubble height will reduce the amount of stem bolting.
Keep stems from growing!
When strip grazing chicory, a back fence should be used so that regrowth will not be grazed and weaken the stand.
Established forage chicory stands have yield and quality potentials comparable to many other Pennsylvania forage crops. Yields of 6 ton/acre have been obtained from pure chicory stands in Pennsylvania trials. The digestibility and the mineral content of chicory leaves are greater than alfalfa. The digestibility of chicory leaves is generally between 90 and 95%. Chicory flower stems are less digestible than leaves. This is an additional reason to manage chicory pastures so that stems do not fully develop. Protein levels in chicory range from 10 to 32% depending on plant maturity.
Animal performance on forage chicory has been exceptional. In West Virginia trials, forage chicory pastures produced lamb gains of 820 lb per acre. Studies in New Zealand have reported animal gains of 0.6 lb per day for lambs and 2 lb per day for friesian bulls grazing chicory. Chicory contains relatively high levels of minerals (potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, zinc, and sodium) which are essential for proper animal nutrition.