Alfalfa, or Perrenial to plant in the Fall?

Discussion in 'Whitetail Management' started by Obsessed, Aug 2, 2020.

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  1. Obsessed

    Obsessed Well-Known Member

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    I've failed twice at getting cheap alfalfa seed to take earlier this spring. The light mix of grass seed i mixed in has done well though and I'm keeping a thick plot of grass mowed regularly now through summer. I'm wanting to plant alfalfa and/or a good perrenial mix soon, (late summer/early fall). I live in central Iowa and it's an acre of full sun on a hilltop, so it's well drained. Lots of good Iowa black topsoil.

    What should I plant? Do I need to kill my grass off completely?

    I'm wanting low maintenance that will last a few years at least. Something that will be relatively easy to establish. I've sold all of my heavy machinery, so only have a single axle disc that I pull with my truck. I'd like to disc really well, throw down seed, then disc again, if that's even an option. Alfalfa is appealing, because I can bale it if I want to, and it can last several years.

    Got any advice for seed to plant? When to plant it? Will my planting methodology work? If not, what do I need to do?

    Thanks in advance.
     
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  3. Wi transplant

    Wi transplant PMA Member

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    I would recommend if you want alphalfa to (try) for pure alphalfa. I would kill everything. Till then plant 50lbs oats /acre as cover crop . Roll/cultipac then broadcast alphalfa seed at 8 to 10lbs acre the roll/cultipac again . Next yr you will naturally have some grass in plot or add some Timothy or other grass to it . But establish your alphafa first!!! Remember deer don't eat grass !! So if your doing for horses or cows great but no grass for deer . Hope this helps.

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  4. Wi transplant

    Wi transplant PMA Member

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    Must plant alphalfa no more than 1/8 in deep. !!!

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  5. Wi transplant

    Wi transplant PMA Member

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    You can disk in your oats then make a drag out of pallets and blocks ect. And drag plot smooth then broadcast alphalfa and lighty drag with chain link fence or something. To cover alphalfa seed /not to deep!!!! Hope this helps ! Sounds like your alphalfa was planted to deep in first couple attempts. Now into fall great time to plant ! Good luck!

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  6. Thinkin Rut

    Thinkin Rut PMA Member

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  7. Thinkin Rut

    Thinkin Rut PMA Member

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    Alfalfa is fairly high maintenance...I dont think cutting it is optional. I'd go with a White clover mix.
     
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  8. Obsessed

    Obsessed Well-Known Member

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    If the deer absolutely hammer it, it might not need to be baled. That's where I was coming from with that statement. My neighbor has equipment to bale if/when needed.

    Thanks for the suggestions. I'll look into them.
     
  9. Oct-Lull

    Oct-Lull Active Member

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    I would not consider alfalfa low maintenance. It needs a deep tilled well cultivated and smooth seed bed to start. Compaction is not going to lead to a good stand. Then is needs to be cut every 28 days to keep it prime and a light fertilizer app each cutting goes a long way. Grazing alone would have to be really heavy. Mow at a minimum and definitely bale and remove if there is much residue at all. If seeding alone which can be done mid Aug I would do 15# per acre if drilling it in. Use good quility seed. Oats will definitely take some pressure off the young alfalfa til spring but to heavy and it won't be ideal. A good forage mix would be a second option, rye, wheat, oats, peas make a good mix and I add a few forage beans.

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  10. Sligh1

    Sligh1 Administrator Staff Member

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    Agree on above. I bet if u did 1/2 acre for example- deer keep it mowed. If u don’t bale- u need to clip it before it gets too tall... the goal is to make sure it doesn’t get smothered by massive amount of clippings. & yes- fussy to establish (vs clover) & fertility needs a lot more thought.... ample p&k & PH in correct place + boron, zinc, sulfur, etc. All are easy to add to any fertilizer cart if ur soil is low on them (MESZ fertilizer for example). Very simple but make sure u get soil test and add what’s needed. Deer love alfalfa. If no alfalfa- I’d do mix with red, about 2 whites (Alice white, kopu II, ladino, etc) & couple others like: berseem, balansa, crimson, Alsike, etc.
     
  11. Obsessed

    Obsessed Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the advice gents. I never thought alfalfa was high maintainance from my experiences of bailing it as a kid. Farmers would till, throw down seed, and soon enough I'd be throwing bales onto the rack as they emerged from the baler shoot. Zero fertilizer. Zero anything. Just plant. Cut. Bale. Repeat until the soil needed to be turned and seed replanted in a few years. I've asked my local COOP if they do soil testing and the dude looked at me real funny, due to the type of soil we have around here I'm assuming. I'll do more research. Maybe I won't go the alfalfa route at all.
     
  12. Sligh1

    Sligh1 Administrator Staff Member

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    I wouldn’t abandon alfalfa. The guy looking at u funny for not wanting a soil test and proper fertility for alfalfa?!? That guy needs a funny look back!! No matter what u planting, u don’t want to be depleted for Potassium or have some whacked out PH, etc etc. all of which are common problems.
     
  13. Obsessed

    Obsessed Well-Known Member

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    Alright, if I bail on alfalfa (pun intended), for my full sun grassy hilltop, what's my best option for perennial seed that I can disc to breakup sod and expose soil, broadcast spread seed, lightly disc again, and have relatively good success? I'm wanting to plant this late summer/fall if possible. I also don't want to spray and kill all of my grass if I don't have to. I have urea onhand to broadcast spread for fertilizer if needed. I'm not a fanatic about foodplots. I'm just looking for fall planting perrenials that are relatively easy to establish, and set-it-and-forget-it for the most part. Anything come to mind that fits this bill?
     
  14. Elvis188

    Elvis188 Super Moderator

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    You said you had a neighbor (farmer) who could cut and bale it, why don't you just have him plant it for you as well? You furnish the seed and let him have X numbers of cuttings for free for doing the planting. Alfalfa is good for at least 7 years before it needs to be replanted. I have seen some guys go more than 15 years between plantings in good soil.
     
  15. Obsessed

    Obsessed Well-Known Member

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    I can have my farmer neighbor plant it, but he's going to plant it the exact same way I want to plant it. Not the way that has been described above in previous other member responses. Since that's the case, I may as well plant it myself. If he bales it for me, I intend on paying him in a portion of the bales.
     
  16. Thinkin Rut

    Thinkin Rut PMA Member

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    Id say alfalfa is the preferred food over clover. Plant it...what's the worst that can happen?
     
  17. IowaBowHunter1983

    IowaBowHunter1983 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Clover. Add rye as a nurse crop. Spray with cleth in spring.

    Just an option. Clover is not maintenance free either though.
     
  18. Tmayer13

    Tmayer13 PMA Member

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    The only stuff you can plant that would be considered maintenance free would be annuals. But it sounds like you dont want to go that route...You could do clover but as mentioned above I would definitely use rye as the nurse crop and it will take some care to keep it lush and attractive. It almost seems you want to have a food plot but dont really want to do much work...if thats the case then you should just disc it throw some beans out disc it again and let it be...sure youll have tons of weeds but your going to have weeds if you dont maintain any crops...or if you have urea on hand, why not plant turnips and radishes for this year and then spring plant something else?
     
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  19. Obsessed

    Obsessed Well-Known Member

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    I live near Des Moines, IA. (Lower part of Central Iowa, and top part of Southern Iowa). What are the best alfalfa species to plant in this region? Again, full sun hilltop, well drained, good black Iowa topsoil. I'll probably buy from Des Moines Feed. Or, do you recommend I buy a prepackaged alfalfa 'food plot' seed from like Fleet Farm?

    I'm not looking to put a ton of time, effort, or $ into this, and don't expect it to be a premium food plot in return, but I would like some alfalfa to actually germinate and grow this time. Anything is better than the nothing that I've accomplished so far.
     
  20. Thinkin Rut

    Thinkin Rut PMA Member

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    Id wait a year or two and do it right. It's hard enough to get a plot established even when you go all in on it.
     
  21. Obsessed

    Obsessed Well-Known Member

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    Everybody is entitled to their opinion, and I respect that. But... I'm just trying to establish an acre patch of alfalfa, in Central Iowa, where anything/everything grows. It isn't rocket science. I planted cheap seed before, in the spring, and may have covered it a bit too deep, so it failed. At this point, I'd really just like educated opinions on the best alfalfa seed species for my region and possibly where to buy them. Again, I'm not a fanatic about food plots and won't go all in even if I wait a year or two. It's not my passion. My neighbor got a chuckle out of all of this. He says he just throws alfalfa seed down and lightly tills it in. Doesn't kill anything that's already there, as long as it's not real weedy to begin with. He couldn't recall the species of seed he went with the last time he seeded though.
     

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