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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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0811fg_undersander_1Editor’s note: Even though the discussion in this article is based on an older study and prices may not accurately reflect today’s market, the general application principle of shorter rotations are still applicable for production and profitability now.

Shorter rotations mean greater profit per acre for the entire farm because of higher alfalfa yield, higher forage quality, reduced pesticide use, greater nitrogen credits and increased corn yields.

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Proper nutrient levels go a long way in promoting yield, forage quality, disease tolerance and overall crop production. If your alfalfa stand is lacking nutrients, you’re not going to realize optimum yield and quality potential.

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As the hot days of summer give way to cool fall temperatures, alfalfa growers are encouraged to consider winter injury risk when thinking about fall cutting.

“Growers really need to assess the risk versus the gain when it comes to fall cutting of alfalfa,” said Charles Scovill, Syngenta field agronomist. “While it may be tempting to take a final cutting late in the fall, you could be ultimately risking winter stand injury.”

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0711fg_blaser_fg_1The average stand of alfalfa lasts between five to six years.

Once it becomes evident through stand and stem evaluation, or through increased pest population, that the alfalfa stand needs to be replaced, the grower should consider some potential problems with replanting a new crop too quickly.

University studies have shown that there should be a minimum of one year before re-establishing alfalfa because of autotoxicity in existing alfalfa.

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An electronic forage moisture tester can be a very useful tool when baling hay.

There are several different types of testers on the market.

Some testers require a small sample of chopped material for testing, while others measure moisture content with a probe.

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Interpreting forage analysis reports is a two-part process. You must first understand the basic terminology and meaning of the important components of the report.

Then you must evaluate each forage’s ability to produce a desired level of animal performance when it is consumed.

To be useful, a forage analysis report should be based on a representative sample from a single “lot” of hay. (A “lot” is hay from one field which has been cut, handled, baled and stored under uniform conditions.)

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