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Planting

Seed selection is only the beginning to a plentiful forage harvest; check out additional articles on soil testing, root development and timing to help you succeed.

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Farmers generally minimize feed costs by producing high yields of high-quality forage. Some farmers strive to long stand life, but many take advantage of short rotations with forage to gain rotational effects and nitrogen credits, thereby increasing yield of the following corn crop for either grain or silage.

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When growing alfalfa, variety selection is only one key to maximizing yield and forage quality. Even the best seed genetics will never allow a crop to reach its full potential unless growers also take the necessary steps to identify their specific, individual needs prior to planting and establishing a successful stand.

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No-till seeding of forage grasses and legumes can be successful and has become an accepted practice according to John Hobbs, an agriculture and rural development specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

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Unless farmers want to chance reduced yields, they should probably stick with inoculating their clover seed themselves, according to a Texas AgriLife Research forage scientist.

"Or they should realize that they'll need to plant the coated seed at a higher rate per acre to get the same yields," said Dr. Gerald Evers, AgriLife Research forage management expert.

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Fall is a season for planting small grains, annual ryegrass, tall fescue, annual clovers, perennial clovers and alfalfa. This article will provide an overview of various fall forage species.

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University of Illinois Extension educator Jim Morrison recommends establishing alfalfa fields with six to eight inches growth before a killing frost occurs. The following advice was provided in a August 5 news release from the University of Illinois Extension:

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