Step 2. Wilting
Wilting increases the % dry matter and reduces losses from effluent.
It also means the silage will stabilise at a higher pH so less acid, hence sugars, will be required.
The problem is, as soon as grass is cut, sugars start declining because they are being used up by the plant, since it is still living, and by undesirable bacteria.
A higher DM will also inhibit undesirable clostridia bacteria.
Therefore, the aim should be to wilt as rapidly as possible to an ideal target DM of 28-32%, but no longer.
TOP TIP: Leaving grass to wilt also reduces haulage.
While a 24-hour wilt may be fine in some circumstances, it could be too long in good conditions. For example, cutting in the morning and achieving a rapid wilt could mean 28-32% DM is achieved that same afternoon.
By contrast, if you cut in the afternoon, although sugar content might be higher initially because the crop has been photosynthesising for more hours that day, you could be forced to wilt for a full 24 hours, so more of that sugar could be lost.
To reduce wilting time, make effective use of mower-conditioners and tedding. But make sure tedders and rakes are adjusted correctly to avoid hitting the ground and risking contamination with soil.