Topics : Species and Forage Variety Trials : Species Fact Sheets : Timothy
Additional timothy information via the Forage Information System (FIS)
Timothy Harvest Management
The spring growth of timothy passes through the typical stages of grass development, tillering, jointing (stem elongation), heading, flowering and seed formation. Flowering heads are commonly produced in the summer aftermath growth, in contrast to most perennial cool-season grasses which produce seed heads only during the spring growth. Initial flowering in the spring does not usually occur until late May in southern Pennsylvania and June in northern Pennsylvania and New York, depending on the variety and location in the state.
Timothy is a hay-type forage grass, with relatively few basal leaves below the cutting height. It is easily weakened by frequent cutting or grazing. This is due to its limited storage of energy reserves in the corms, its production of few basal leaves to support regrowth after harvest and its upright growth habit which is generally dominated by a single stem.
Timothy is relatively tolerant of pre-joint harvest in early to mid-May but is adversely affected by harvesting during the jointing stage in mid May. In addition, harvesting at early heading reduced timothy yields and persistence, compared to harvesting at either early or late bloom (Table 3). Harvesting the spring growth of timothy at early heading reduced first harvest yield and there is generally no increase in yield of subsequent harvests to compensate for this loss. In Pennsylvania, timothy makes relatively little yield after the first harvest because of its intolerance to the hot and dry conditions that prevail during summers. More summer yield can be expected in New York, where moisture and temperature are more favorable for summer growth of timothy. Quality of timothy is among the highest of cool- season grasses when vegetative, but decreases very rapidly as reproductive growth is initiated.
Under grazing management, timothy should not be allowed to progress very far into jointing before grazing. Delaying grazing will reduce the stored energy reserves and ultimately reduce timothy persistence. Grazing in the spring can begin when the timothy is 3-4 inches tall. Timothy will tolerate moderate continuous grazing but rotational grazing with a minimum recovery period of 3 weeks will improve timothy production and persistence.