Fall seeding alfalfa can significantly boost 2011 hay production
August 20, 2010
BROOKINGS, SD – Producers wanting to get a head start on their 2011 alfalfa stand should consider fall seeding their crop this August.
“As long as we have moisture, fall seeding alfalfa can work perfectly – based on how this summer is going moisture-wise, it should be a good year to take advantage of the benefits fall seeding alfalfa provides,” said Vance Owens, research agronomist for South Dakota State University.
Owens added that by fall seeding alfalfa, growers don’t have to fight the same weed pressure they do in the spring, and fall seeding can significantly boost their 2011 hay production.
“If the crop establishes well, you’ll begin the next year with an established crop which typically results in one to two extra cuttings,” Owens said, using Brookings County as an example. “Typically we only get one or two cuttings in Brookings County, however, if the alfalfa is planted this August, next year farmers can expect three, maybe even four cuttings.”
Fall seeding of alfalfa should take place Aug. 1 through Aug. 15; six to eight weeks prior to the first killing frost. This gives the plant enough time to crown – key in their ability to overwinter says Owens.
“Without a good crown, the crop will have a difficult time overwintering because that means it didn’t have enough nutrients stored in the roots to survive winter – this is where moisture plays a large role in determining whether fall seeding is the right decision for you,” Owens said. “The crop needs to be followed by moisture to germinate in time.”
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If growers decide to fall seed their alfalfa into wheat stubble, the crop will reduce erosion, utilize moisture, minimize tilling impact, and take advantage of otherwise idle land said Justin Fruechte, forage and cover crop specialist for Millborn Seeds, Brookings.
“It is a convenient way to break up your spring workload, and take advantage of the summer moisture we’ve been having” said Fruechte, who works with livestock producers across the state helping them maximize their forage yields and profits.