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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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Alfalfa is one of the most widely adapted and productive crops available to growers. The crop provides high protein, energy and mineral values for livestock.

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The level of alfalfa winterkill affects forage quality because of increased grassy and broadleaf weed pressure. In general, grasses such as quackgrass and bromegrass will reduce the quality of the harvested forage while broadleaf weeds have less effect.

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Severe winter cold coupled with little or no snow cover can result in poor hay and pasture stands in spring. Plants may be killed or weakened, leaving barren areas in the field or thinning of the stand, depending on the severity of winter injury.

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Dairies in the six western states of California, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Utah and Arizona produce around 38 percent of the U.S. milk supply. Dairies in these states consume approximately 65 percent of the alfalfa hay produced in the seven western states.

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Forage yield in 2010 was generally average or above average across the Midwest. Good rain occurred over the entire growing season which elevated hay and pasture yield.

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Heaving is problem in some alfalfa stands each year in the Midwest. Heaving occurs on heavy soils that have high moisture contents.

Repeated freezing and thawing causes soil expansion and contraction that pushes the tap-rooted plants (and fence posts) out of the soil.

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