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Alfalfa

Find articles on alfalfa planting, stand establishment and crop management to help you achieve your production goals.

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When I help growers choose the right alfalfa for their operations, there are a lot of factors we discuss. As an adviser, my goal is to really understand each grower’s unique situation and management style to recommend an alfalfa variety that best fits those needs.

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Currently underway is a project to enable alfalfa producers to map yield and quality (or more precisely, nutritive value) across an alfalfa field using an unmanned aircraft system (UAS – also called a drone) at sufficient resolution to enable identification of the yield damage caused by wheel traffic.

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Alfalfa is used by and marketed for dairy cows, beef cattle and exports, in the form of cubes and compressed bales. In Washington state, alfalfa makes up about 65 percent of the total hay grown.

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Profitability in producing alfalfa hay is mostly a function of yield. However, to the animal that consumes hay, forage quality is very important, especially in high-producing dairy cows where intake may be limited. Four factors change as the harvest date is delayed: physical yield, forage quality, value per ton and harvest cost per acre.

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Every alfalfa producer has made the difficult decision to end the life of an alfalfa stand. In irrigated alfalfa production, this is often associated with crop rotation and seems to hover around a four- to seven-year stand life.

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Cotton root rot is not just a fear for cotton producers. The rise of cotton root rot in alfalfa fields is a growing concern for alfalfa producers.

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