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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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Weather during harvest can be the biggest challenge in putting up high-quality hay. If hay is still a bit wet but a storm is coming and you want to get it baled and stored before the rain, you might consider using inoculants and hay preservatives.

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Summer alfalfa is different in structure than hardened or winterized alfalfa. Summer alfalfa will freeze and die at 32ºF, while winterized alfalfa can survive temperatures (in the root zone) of as low as 13ºF and even colder air temperatures (Figure 1).

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To effectively condition hay or haylage, we need to understand the forage drying process:

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Having the correct amount of moisture in harvested alfalfa at the time of baling is critical to maximizing economic return. In many of the areas of the western U.S., moisture levels of alfalfa hay in the windrow can dry to the point that leaves and stems will shatter during the baling process.

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Baled silage, or baleage, is forage baled at a higher moisture content than dry hay and then stored in sealed plastic wrap. The high moisture level and air-tight environment create favorable conditions for anaerobic fermentation and production of lactic and acetic acids that preserve the forage.

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Sunshine – a word producers have not said for a while during the winter/holiday season. As we start to climb into the calendar year, experience the beloved time change in March and see longer days filled with sunshine, it means hay season is not far away.

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