will consequently be greater. When cutting is delayed until seeds have started to develop, the natural tendency of Red Clover and other biennial fodder plants is to die down; with Timothy and other grasses the effect is apparent not only in the aftermath but also in the crop of the succeeding year. In wild nature the next year's crop would consist in part of young plants from seed which, under agricultural conditions, is frequently allowed to form but not to mature and drop.
From the standpoint of the quality of the hay, nothing is gained and much may be lost by deferring cutting until the bloom is well advanced. The yield per acre is slightly increased during the few days between early and late flowering, but that small increase is obtained at the expense of a marked depreciation in quality; and if the aftermath or succeeding crops are taken into account, the total yield is actually reduced.
When fodder crops that reach the early flowering stage at different times are sown together, as Early Red Clover and Timothy, the best time for the first cutting depends on the proportion of each. It will usually be found advisable, and in the end most economical, to cut when the early maturing clover is not more than two or three days past its best condition for hay-making. In dry, hot weather fodder crops ripen quickly, and a few days' delay may then do as much damage as a much longer period would in cool weather with a moist soil.
For hay, cutting is best done by machine mowers. The harvesting of grass seed is commonly done with self-binders, the sheaves being stood together in small shocks to cure and ripen the seed.
Close cutting for hay is recommended. When the fodder crop consists largely of clovers and is heavy and lodged in patches, the cutter bar should be so adjusted as to get below the stalks, else the remaining stubble will be dangerous to the machinery in tedding and raking and will leave a worthless roughage. to be collected with the next hay crop. The advantage of a smooth surface, produced by the use of the weeder following the grain drill and by spring rolling across the furrows, is best appreciated when a heavy and badly lodged crop of clover is to be cut.
It is usually convenient to cut during that part of the day when the dew prevents the work of making and hauling. When, however, the clover crop is heavy and liable to collect on the divider when wet with dew, late afternoon cutting is desirable. Tedding or turning the green fodder should commence soon after it is cut. If the crop