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Alfalfa Management

 

3 Ways Alfalfa Growers Can Improve Quality

Alfalfa growers face several challenges that can reduce the quality of the crop. Three factors they can control are crop maturity, harvest timing and chop height. See how these practices affect alfalfa quality.

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Reducing Harvest Traffic Damage

Harvesting equipment can damage alfalfa stems, crowns and roots, resulting in reduced yields and stand life, and soil compaction. Reduce plant damage with timely harvest after cutting, proper equipment sizing and controlled traffic patterns.

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Delayed Alfalfa Harvest

Many alfalfa fields in the upper Midwest experienced moderate to extreme winter damage. In addition, the drought of 2012 has left many dairy operations with short feed inventories. Finally, the wet, cool spring has delayed field operations in many areas. Dairy farmers must make some difficult decisions this season about how to manage alfalfa yield, quality and plant health.

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Fall Alfalfa: To Mow or Not to Mow?

There are several schools of thought regarding fall management of alfalfa in areas where declining autumn temperatures result in the plants becoming dormant. The first — and oldest — recommends that the final cut of alfalfa be done by late August or early September, letting the regrowth remain in the field through the winter.

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Using PEAQ Sticks to Measure Relative Forage Quality

Predictive Equations for Alfalfa Quality (PEAQ) estimates forage quality by plant maturity and height. These four simple steps explain how to use a PEAQ stick to estimate preharvest alfalfa quality.

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Capturing Your Best First Crop of Alfalfa

Timing of the first cutting of alfalfa is critical. The crop loses quality quickly in the bud to flowering stage. Growers who measure quality with PEAQ sticks or scissor cuts can ensure they’re bringing more nutrients in from the field.

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