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Alfalfa

DE2IA

Active Member
Thinking of trying alfalfa for the first time.......would plant last week of JULY. So the question is, if we get rain, will the alfalfa be up enough this year to be a huntable plot in the fall?
 

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
I say yes. End of July- if u get moisture - it will be. That’s a good growing timeframe to get some height.

Btw- good chart if a guy wanted to get “fussy”. Then- sky is the limit on reading on grazing alfalfa’s and the balancing of lower lignin contents for digestibilty while keeping quality up. To keep it SIMPLE - I think if u get strains that have dormancy & resistence to problems in ur growing area - be just fine.

http://www.alfalfa.org/pdf/2018_Variety_Leaflet.pdf
 
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IowaBowHunter1983

Super Moderator
Staff member
For those planting alfalfa for deer, do you have success growing it without bailing it? Is that even possible? Can you just mow it and leave it? As I sit in stands in the fall I am constantly looking around at future projects (it actually gets annoying in my own head). Anyway, one spot, lighter soils, alfalfa probably do well, but I can't bail it. Not nearly big enough to rent out to someone for hay even if it was free. Alfalfa one of the few things I have not played with. Thoughts?
 

Daver

PMA Member
I have had an alfalfa field for 2 years now and have never baled it. BUT...we have had wicked drought the past two summers, so it really never grew as fast as it would have had we had normal rain. Soooo, it could be that I would have had trouble keeping up with it in a "normal" rain year. As it was, I just mowed it periodically and let it lay...but I never really had a big "mat" of cut stuff on top of the still growing plants underneath. A small plot could be kept short enough by the deer too that it wouldn't need much mowing??
 
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Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
Yepper Just mow more often if it’s growing like crazy. The reason bailing works is it keeps alfalfa from being smothered with a thick mat of clippings. All is taken off the plants when bailed up. Clover is more tolerant to be smothered.
Few keys.... mow it finely at stage it won’t smother. Buy a creeping alfalfa that’s slow growing- not rated high for bailing production. Get a leafy strain that’s more of a slow growing grazer. That’s all stuff that’ll help but kinda splitting hairs. Buy “whatever” & don’t let it get choked out & u will b just fine. If not- spread some clover in or rotate it out & try again another year. You also could TRY some smaller plots of it & see if deer just mow it for u.
 

Hardwood11

It is going to be a good fall!
For those planting alfalfa for deer, do you have success growing it without bailing it? Is that even possible? Can you just mow it and leave it? As I sit in stands in the fall I am constantly looking around at future projects (it actually gets annoying in my own head). Anyway, one spot, lighter soils, alfalfa probably do well, but I can't bail it. Not nearly big enough to rent out to someone for hay even if it was free. Alfalfa one of the few things I have not played with. Thoughts?

How many acres are you looking to plant?
 

Daver

PMA Member
Do you have any cattle guys in your area?
I have neighbors cut my alfalfa-2 acres for free. They get several round bales off 2 acres.

I suspect this would hold true here in Iowa too. I had a guy ask if he could bale off of my ONE acre alfalfa plot. I couldn't let him do so because that plot is a part of my CRP acres. When I re-enrolled in CRP this summer, 5 acres were dropped out because they weren't contiguous with the other acres. So I plan on letting that farmer run alfalfa on those acres starting next year. Free food plot for me...the only stipulation is that he is not supposed to mow it super short after mid-August so I have some there for the deer for the fall/winter.
 

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
Killer deal!! Really important.... Baling pulls huge quantities of P&K out of the soil.... Make sure, it's paid for or simply reapplied each year. Lime & P&K & ideally a little Boron. Very important & if you bale it and don't keep up with it, MINING the soil like that over some time will leave you with one massively expensive P&K & lime bill to get it back to fertile levels.
 

hillrunner

PMA Member
For those planting alfalfa for deer, do you have success growing it without bailing it? Is that even possible? Can you just mow it and leave it? As I sit in stands in the fall I am constantly looking around at future projects (it actually gets annoying in my own head). Anyway, one spot, lighter soils, alfalfa probably do well, but I can't bail it. Not nearly big enough to rent out to someone for hay even if it was free. Alfalfa one of the few things I have not played with. Thoughts?

I'm going to try this in a small plot next year. I have been using the dbltree rotation in this plot but the deer keep it mowed to the ground until everything freezes, then they leave it. I'm hoping alfalfa can produce enough tonnage to keep up.
 

IowaBowHunter1983

Super Moderator
Staff member
Anyone had luck just broadcasting alfalfa? I've got a few marginal clover plots that I'd like to intereseed alfalfa into. The soil is just a bit too sandy.
 

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
Anyone had luck just broadcasting alfalfa? I've got a few marginal clover plots that I'd like to intereseed alfalfa into. The soil is just a bit too sandy.
In could be done. Alfalfa is for sure more fussy than clover. & at $3-5/lbs - I think most avoid it as it’s not ideal. But sure, give it a whirl. Ideally any packing would help. Alfalfa likes a pretty firm seed bed. Would be nice to get 1/8” in too. U could use drill to interseed or u could cultipack after spreading. Another random idea.... lightly disc & pack the existing clover & interseed alfalfa & even some more clovers into it.
Last side note.... with alfalfa a guy needs to pay closer attention to PH, p&k & even micro nutrients like boron, etc. clearly an “alfalfa cart” is common to be mixed at any coop so all those things common & readily available.
 

SB3

Active Member
Freshly killed 1/4 acre patch of fescue on July 4th, disked in 100lbs of 6-24-24 on July 28th, packed it, put down 5lbs of alfalfa and packed it again. Alfalfa seems to put most of its early growth into the roots, it's finally getting some good top growth. We've have great moisture in Putnam Co MO this year. Need to hit this with Clethodim to kill the grasses coming thru

North Central Alfalfa.jpg
 

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
20-ish.
Just finished mine before rain. I usually do no till but did spray, disc, cultimulch, seed, cultimulch on this. 7-100-100 + lime, sulfur, boron & zinc. Not much to look at here but I’ll update some pics as time goes on.
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Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
Very happy with stand. Baby alfalfa looks happy & perfect. Lot of lime that was needed + P & K and I also ran fertilizer blend called MESZ & my fertilizer cart had boron, zinc & sulfur in it. This is for hay production but I know it will be a deer magnet as well. & mega deer nutrition for the next 5-7 years on this stand.

2 weeks ago:
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1 week ago:
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Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
May 27. Experimented with light oats, no oats and let oats run out where got sparse just to compare. Not a huge difference either way in this one off lil experiment. Got a lot of rain in last week and need sun!!!
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