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Alfalfa

dbltree

Super Moderator
Most of you have already read the QDMA article on alfalfa: QDMA Alfalfa article

Canada QDM aticle

Description and Adaptation of Alfalfa

Alfalfa University

It's not for everyone but it's one of my favorites. I spent the first 1/2 of my life milking 130 cows (and the second 1/2 doing something I could actually make a living at so alfalfa is something that I'm very familiar with. As a dairyman you learn gow to squeeze every bit of protein out of a crop as is possible, and you learn what the most efficient and effective way to plant it and maintain it. Clover has many of the same attributes and works better on heavier poorly drained soils.

I find that deer are drawn to alfalfa well into December here in SE Iowa and alfalfa tends to be longer lived then clover. As the article states it's best if you can mow it (you cant just plant it and forget it it) and it's not best in very small plots that would get hammered to hard.

August seedings are the very best for seeding both alfalfa and clover. One can prepare a good seedbed, wait for a an upcoming rain and seed just ahead of it. Roll the seedbed so it's firm, broadcast the seed, and just re-roll it (don't drag it in).
Many spring seeding become over run with weeds and may require spraying or clipping to control, while fall seedings...frost will do the "weeding" for you

If you absolutley must spring seed...an age old method is to use oats for a cover crop as my renter did on our place this year. He will bale the oats green, which will also remove weed cover and leave the alfalfa seedlings free to take off on thier own in late summer.

If you cannot remove the oats...your better off to plan on herbicides such as Select 2-EC (clethodim) and 2-4DB on a spring seeding.

Germination takes roughly 10-15 days as explained in this link. Alfalfa germination

Welter Seed is a great source for alfalfa seed.

Sow alfalfa at 15-20#'s per acre generally like clover seed, till, cultipack, broadcast seed and re-cultipack to cover just pressing the seed into the soil.

PH is important so be sure to soil test and add lime, P&K per the test and work it into the soil before planting.

Alfalfa can grow on a wide range of soils but it will grow on lighter sandy loam soils that clover will not. Alfalfa has long tap roots that can extend 12-15 feet deep making it very drought resistant.

Alfalfa is one of the highest in protien and digestable protien making it very attractive to deer and a valuable income source where it can be sold as a hay crop.

Here's few shots of our new alfalfa seeding
This is a hidden field (A.K.A. Honey Hole)
771Alfalfa_2006.jpg


In both pics you may be able to see the "edge feathering" I did in March. Some trees died but others that I 1/2 cut have leafed out. I formed a "fence" along the edge of the field to force deer to use only two runways to the field

771Edge_feathering.jpg


Baby alfalfa about a month old coming up with the oats...this fall this field will be sweeeetttt /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

771Baby_alfalfa.jpg
 
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SaskGuy

Active Member
Being from a place where alfalfa is basically the only forage for the deer besides browse I'd say "good choice". Though frosts have whacked it before mid Oct. here most years it still draws the deer all winter. I see that the oats as a cover crop is the same choice 1500 miles apart.
 
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dbltree

Super Moderator
Quote:
I plan on putting some in around the later part of the summer...about an acre and a half



That's the best time to put it in IMO Shredder

Here's a couple recent pics...


This is a spot where the oats are thinner...and dah...the alfalfa is thicker

AlfalfaandOats2.jpg


Here the otas are much thicker and taller and the alfalfa is thinner and struggles more to compete.

AlfafaandOats.jpg


A clear summer seeding of alfalfa or clover doesn't have to compete with anything and will still be just right for your fall food plot!
 
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dbltree

Super Moderator
Few more pics of our alfalfa seeding after the oats were cut and baled green in late July.

Few broadleaves and some foxtail coming up now but if it keeps raining it can be mowed and baled one more time. Then cold weather will take care of the annual "pests"

AlfalfaendofJuly.jpg


Lot of high quality, high protien feed...don't get no better!

AlfalfaseedingJuly24.jpg


It's possible we might see a deer or two in this field long about late October...

Alfalfaseeding2.jpg


I might add that right now is a perfect time to establish alfalfa in a clear seeding...and it will be just right for attracting deer this fall and turkeys in the spring
 
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dbltree

Super Moderator
Here's a link to info on planting Alfagraze:

Alfagraze

This is our spring planted alfalfa after a second cutting. It's lush, and covered up with deer, however it's being harvested for hay. It's much easier to manage with almost no hassle on my part.

EarlySeptAlfalfa.jpg



I rent it for hay and all I have to do is hunt /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

If you can't manage alfalfa in this way however, clover might be a better option because the alfalfa will get way to tall, heavy and rank with out constant mowing.

Planting a very small plot with heavy deer densities might be an option, otherwise larger plots are better off being "farmed".

White/ladino clovers do not get nearly as tall as alfalfa making them easier to manage if one is unable to harvest it for hay. Each has pros and cons depending on your situation.

Clover Post
 

dbltree

Super Moderator
Even with all the freshly combined grain fields...the deer are still in our alfalfa daily. The cold weather hasn't affected it yet and they don't pass up a chance at high quality protein! /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

DeerinAlfalfa.jpg


It normally stays green and attractive to deer well into shotgun season:

MidOctalfalfa-1.jpg


Mighty tender and tasty vittles there:

Tenderalfalfa.jpg
 

dbltree

Super Moderator
I know that RR alfalfa can yield much more in commercial operations, but I think the jury is still out on the benifits versus cost for foodplots.

Well planted alfalfa seedings can last for years out competing weeds and grasses, and even then an application of Poast Plus will clean it up.

I haven't priced RR alfalfa but according some of these links it's about $6 a # or more then double conventional alfalfa seed


Here's a few links to RR alfalfa and alfalfa in general:


America's Alfalfa

FSG 425RR ALFALFA

Truth about RR Alfalfa

Uising RR Alfalfa in Iowa

Comparing RR to conventional alfalfa

Alfalfa Varieties

Remember to inoculate!!
 
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mole

Active Member
We planted RR this year and we have seen no difference. In fact we added some more hay ground this fall and chose to interseed with wheat instead of RR due to our less than positive expeience with the RR alfalfa.

I don't remember what the coast was, but it does leave a pretty good dent in the pocketbook.

mole
 

dbltree

Super Moderator
November is nearly over and my alfalfa is still sucking deer in like crazy!

It's full when I pull in the field in the morning and full when I leave at night! /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

I'm sure clover may be doing equally as well but my clover plots are not easily accessed during hunting season.

I have some new clover seedings next to the alfalfa to better compare next year.

Even though we have had some record lows this fall, it stays green and tender:

Nov22Alfalfa.jpg


There is almost always deer feeding in it:

Feedinginthehay-1.jpg


Plenty of corn stubble nearby but they are always in the alfalfa:

AlfalfainNov.jpg


Eventually it's going to freeze out but by the time it is done...my freezer will be full!

Novalfalfa.jpg
 

dbltree

Super Moderator
I plan to frost seed with some type of clover. Any suggestions????



I prefer just about any type of white clover, which includes Jumbo Ladino Clover.

Red clover is very easy to frost seed but it get's rank unless you keep it mowed (or baled would be better)

Whites don't get as tall or rank and are better suited for grazing. Very easy to frost seed into your alfalfa.

Welters has a great selection and all pre-inoculated as well. They will ship small orders even if it's listed as a 50# bag only.

Good chance you might be able to split an order with someone in your area...

Give either alfalfa or clover a shot of 6-24-24 in late winter/early spring. 200-300#'s per acre will do the trick.

Welters Clover Seed

Don't forget to lime if it needs it :)
 
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dbltree

Super Moderator
The alfalfa is shrinking low after the deep freeze earlier

12-12alfalfa-1.jpg


There is still some "tender vittles" there though and I expect the deer will keep nibbling at it until it's completely froze out.

Decalfalfa-1.jpg


Compare to Clover this time of year.
 

dbltree

Super Moderator
I walked out Jan. 10th from hunting the last day of the late season and the alfalfa field was still full of deer /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

Unlike clover the base of the alfalfa plant or crown, stays green late into winter and attracts deer because of this trait.

Alfalfa doesn't frost seed very well so it's better to plan a spring or late summer planting.

It can be clear seeded and weeds held at bay with herbicides or planted with oats.

When spring planting with oats you can spray with Poast Plus or Select after the oats are a foot high or so.

This will slowly kill the oats along with grasses and leave a great mulch to conserve moisture and a great growing medium for the seedling alfalfa.

Great info for Alfalfa Establishment

Check the Clover thread for planting "how to's".

Remember to soil test and get lime applied this winter in preperartion for this years planting.

Plant 15-20#'s of seed per acre in a well prepared firm seedbed. Pack, plant and re-pack.

Don't forget inoculant !!

Unless your planting for hay production (perhaps the best management option if you have enough acreage...) use a grazing variety of alfalfa.

Alfagraze Alfalfa

Grazer Brand Alfalfa

Imperial Alfa-Rack

You can also add Chicory to your alfalfa planting.

Oasis Forage Chicory

Check the herbicide section for more info and sources,
but if your unable to control weeds and grasses by clipping your alfalfa you may need to use herbicides.

Apply Butyrac 200 at 2-4 pints per acre ($8-18 per acre costs) to control broadleaf weeds.

Butyrac 200

Apply Poast Plus at .5 to 1.5 pints per acre ($5 -15 per acre costs) to control grasses. Remember to include crop oil with Poast.

Rates per acre: Poast rates


Select 2 EC herbicide is a grass control herbicide for use in clover and alfalfa. 4-8 oz./$5-15 per acre. Available in one gallon at approx. $160 per gallon.

Planting is a ways off...but planning ahead will help ensure a great alfalfa stand
 

nannyslayer

New Member
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> I plan to frost seed with some type of clover. Any suggestions???? </div></div>

I prefer just about any type of white clover, which includes Jumbo Ladino Clover. </div></div> Ladino is a great clover, also try Imperial Whitetail clover. Alot of people will swear they are the same, but we have a 30 acre clover field, with a 3 acre foot plot in the corner planted with Imperial whitetail. The deer will walk through the ladino to get to the Imperial.
 

dbltree

Super Moderator
Frost seeding Chicory into Alfalfa

Perfect weather to frost seed right now with the snow gone so I decided to frost seed some chicory into my alfalfa.

Used a small hand seeder set on 2

PlantingSupplies-1.jpg


Seed is a little bulkier then clover:

ChicorySeed.jpg


The soil is froze in the morning and thawing in the afternoon now and there is plenty of bare soil for good seed/soil contact.

Chicoryintoalfalfa.jpg


Little residue as possible helps:

Frostseedingintoalfalfa.jpg


Little patch of snow along the edge so I made a pass just to see how thick i was putting it on:

ChicorySeedonsnow.jpg


I used Oasis Forage Chicory 3-4# per acre at $6.20 a #

Puna Chicory is another well known, often used chicory.

Here is some info on Forage Chicory

One main concern is to keep chicory mowed so that it doesn't grow stems and start to bolt.

Clipping every 25 days or less will help.

Chicory has many positives including being somewhat drought resistant.

Growing Chicory

OASIS FORAGE CHICORY at Cooper Seeds

Barenbrug Forage Chicory Varieties

ABOUT CHICORY

Chicory
 

dbltree

Super Moderator
Alfalfa out lasted everything I had last fall and it's been up and growing for a week now. /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

My clover is barely peaking thru (although it won't be far behind)

Deer have been filling my alfalfa nightly already...and why not when it looks like a nice fresh salad after a long winter!

LateMarchAlflafa.jpg


Not bad for March and some high quality forage deer can resist!

March23alflafa.jpg


Alfalfa - 61% TDN 19% CP
 

FarmlandQDM

New Member
Nice looking plot Paul ... if you show us how to grow alfalfa like yours we'll teach you how to play with fire ... /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/grin.gif
 

dbltree

Super Moderator
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Nice looking plot Paul ... if you show us how to grow alfalfa like yours we'll teach you how to play with fire ... /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif </div></div>

I don't need help playing with fire Rob...it's learning how NOT to burn several square miles while I'm "playing" /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/blush.gif /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/blush.gif
 

dbltree

Super Moderator
This is a shot of my alfalfa April 1st!

04-01Alfalfa.jpg


Alfalfa grows so fast and thick that it can be difficult for a small food plotter to manage.

It's one of my favorites but a pure stand is better managed for hay which gives the landowner both income ($80 per acre average rent) and no need to have to clip the field constantly.

Looking at the growth in that pic, one can see that soon it will be a foot high and then what?

If you don't keep it constantly clipped you'll smother it "with itself" /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/crazy.gif

It's nearly impossible to have deer density high enough to decimate 5-10 acres of good alfalfa but if one has a small plot planting clover or a clover alfalfa mix would easier to manage.
 

Shredder

Life Member
We'll see how my plot stands up...deer cover the field nightly. I frost seeded clover into it as well and it looks to be coming up effectivly
 

huntdoc

Member
Shredder
Are you planning to harvest your plot or let the deer mow it? I want to watch others results this year before I dive in.
 
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