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Alfalfa

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
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From the other post on perennials to plant - came to mind as I was going over this alfalfa with clethodim/oil in tractor. Snapped quick pic out window. Seeded this spring. It’s very strong healthy stand & the grasses are now bye-bye. I have 2 acres of clover next to this so this fall is gonna be interesting watching the deer preference.


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turkeyriver

PMA Member
As a former cattle feeder and dairy farmer, I grew alfalfa for most of my life. Starting in the 90's, a little pest called a potato leafhopper showed up. We had to spray insecticide every crop or the little buggers would suck the juice out of the plant, turn it yellow so it quit growing, and if left untreated, kill the alfalfa. I wouldn't dream of trying to keep an alfalfa food plot fresh all season, way too much maintenance. Maybe the bug is no longer around.
 

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
As a former cattle feeder and dairy farmer, I grew alfalfa for most of my life. Starting in the 90's, a little pest called a potato leafhopper showed up. We had to spray insecticide every crop or the little buggers would suck the juice out of the plant, turn it yellow so it quit growing, and if left untreated, kill the alfalfa. I wouldn't dream of trying to keep an alfalfa food plot fresh all season, way too much maintenance. Maybe the bug is no longer around.

Ya. Sucks. There’s several varieties out now with Potato Leafhopper resistance. Here’s one Chart. Ignore the seed I circled.
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mrush

Member
Sligh your alfalfa looks great! I planted Alfalfa for the first time last year and got a successful stand of 20 acres. I’m adding 10 acres to that this year. Last fall I watched every deer walk across the clover, wheat, and anything else around to get to the alfalfa. So I just killed the clover to plant more Alfalfa. It’s a big win for me, I share crop it with a neighbor beef guy.


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IowaBowHunter1983

Super Moderator
Staff member
Prepping for alfalfa planting. Mowed 4' weedy grass couple weeks ago and today burned an excessive amount of thatch/trash. Went very slow backburning with a very good fire break..... soooo dry.

Pulling trees next week and a lil dozer work.

We shall see how it goes!
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Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
Going into fall with a ‘20 spring planted stand. Maybe a few weeds. I personally could care less as most will be gone & no way the deer could consume the alfalfa that’s there anyways. Few more weeks of putting on some more tender growth & height going into fall. Left clear lines in this field where a massive clover patch is as well. Will be interesting watching this field seeing how much time deer spend in clover vs alfalfa.
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Jerry Gille

New Member
I am considering taking 3 or 4 acres of open ground and trying to find someone close by to plant alfalfa. I would let them hay it for free but all input costs are on them. I really like alfalfa for a deer plot but want the expense and the hassle to be someone else's responsibility. Any opinions on how realistic it is to get someone to do this with such a small plot? I really would want to keep it to about 3 acres but would do 4 if I had to.
 

evanaf27

New Member
Going into fall with a ‘20 spring planted stand. Maybe a few weeds. I personally could care less as most will be gone & no way the deer could consume the alfalfa that’s there anyways. Few more weeks of putting on some more tender growth & height going into fall. Left clear lines in this field where a massive clover patch is as well. Will be interesting watching this field seeing how much time deer spend in clover vs alfalfa.
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Any conclusions yet on the alfalfa vs clover?
 

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
Any conclusions yet on the alfalfa vs clover?
HA! this subject sure caught some attention. My buddies who have hunted & owned land for years.... Myself included.... Never did a comparison where both were in one field & able to watch them all year & watch deer preference.
K- here's my BOTTOM LINE: If it's preference period.... I give alfalfa the nod! The "FINE PRINT"..... more fussy to plant: can't frost seed, can't interseed, needs to be seeded on firm seed bed carefully, etc. Soil PH & Fertility are more fussy. Alfalfa CAN be managed with higher clippings more frequently - cannot smother. Or bale it of course.

I guess the "SECOND BOTTOM LINE"..... small plots, if it's one or other.... Probably be clover since easier. Or, do alfalfa & then add clover either at planting or in following years when it needs thickening up.

I would suggest giving it a whirl. The WORST that can happen is it doesn't do well or fades out.... which you can add clover at any point. Deer preference alone, again, Alfalfa has the edge based on my experiment & comparison.
 

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
Alfalfa is looking great!!!! It’s been green for quite a while now & lot of deer grazing. Tender growth & being mowed by deer.

Such a HUGE key to building premium nutrition immediately after winter. Also, when deer are putting nutrients into skeletal structures & antlers. Early green legumes are CRITICAL!!
In iowa- anytime the next couple weeks here is just fine for planting
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Last edited:

mrush

Member
I’m having trouble with my Alfalfa after 2nd cutting, it just seems to Peter out and run outta gas. Takes off great in the spring and we got 2 good cuttings last year. Have done the soil tests and PH and Fertilizer. I think it may be the variety I planted. I planted a different brand and variety right next to it last fall to see if that’s it?????


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Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
I’m having trouble with my Alfalfa after 2nd cutting, it just seems to Peter out and run outta gas. Takes off great in the spring and we got 2 good cuttings last year. Have done the soil tests and PH and Fertilizer. I think it may be the variety I planted. I planted a different brand and variety right next to it last fall to see if that’s it?????


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Just to be sure.... fertility still jumps out at me... & a few other ideas....
1) u corrected the fertility & PH at planting or before. Right?
2) do u recall if it called for micro nutrients and did u add them? Boron, sulfur, zinc, etc.
3) how long has it been in? If u have been pulling the nutrients out- making sure u r replenishing them.
4) what’s the soil like?
5) any clue what variety of alfalfa?
 

hillrunner

PMA Member
I’m having trouble with my Alfalfa after 2nd cutting, it just seems to Peter out and run outta gas. Takes off great in the spring and we got 2 good cuttings last year. Have done the soil tests and PH and Fertilizer. I think it may be the variety I planted. I planted a different brand and variety right next to it last fall to see if that’s it?????


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3rd cutting is always a lot less tonnage than 1st and some less than 2nd but you should have finer, more palatable stems which generally makes it worth more $. Hot and dry weather will also greatly affect tonnage.
 

mrush

Member
Ok let’s see what I can do:

1) 2019 spring application:

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2) I used local coop for testing in fall of 2018 and no micros were recommended at that time. Fertility was low and we spread a lot of P&K spring of 2019 at planting and then again last summer after 2nd cutting. Rates applied at soil test recommended amounts. PH average 6.8

4) Silt Loam

5) 20/20 Supreme-Welter’s

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Fall 2018 test results before Spreading rates in pic 1.



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2020 test results and application after 2nd cutting.

Last years test was on the low end of K but the I saw the same thing happen on year 1, after mid July it literally stops growing and the late season grasses start to take over see pics. I’m sure it’s takes a bit for the new fertilizer to become available and maybe that’s the problem. I’m still working on it, but I’m looking forward to seeing the results of the new variety planted next to this.

Spring 2020:
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Fall 2020:
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Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
Ok let’s see what I can do:

1) 2019 spring application:

86bd80d5154705f4e380cbe33cd13a5e.jpg



2) I used local coop for testing in fall of 2018 and no micros were recommended at that time. Fertility was low and we spread a lot of P&K spring of 2019 at planting and then again last summer after 2nd cutting. Rates applied at soil test recommended amounts. PH average 6.8

4) Silt Loam

5) 20/20 Supreme-Welter’s

99a6273cca3a1e43a1ba3b8252a08579.jpg


320a0609ade13848798c7c2ed0814fa5.jpg

Fall 2018 test results before Spreading rates in pic 1.



5c61d3ab9448ea7d04b1fcfc0b504119.jpg

2020 test results and application after 2nd cutting.

Last years test was on the low end of K but the I saw the same thing happen on year 1, after mid July it literally stops growing and the late season grasses start to take over see pics. I’m sure it’s takes a bit for the new fertilizer to become available and maybe that’s the problem. I’m still working on it, but I’m looking forward to seeing the results of the new variety planted next to this.

Spring 2020:
c1df0539465f50a194c9aa1544af3184.jpg


Fall 2020:
c8de840442ec690730da62f7495919b4.jpg



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Wow. Your checklist is perfect. PH is good, you put on P&K. This is tricky for sure. Your stand even looks amazing!!

Minor thoughts: Your magnesium is high. Can cause issues but I doubt that’s it. I didn’t see boron, zinc or sulfur in there which is common. IMO- I would ask coop to make u a mix with “basic levels” of those or get more in depth soil tests. Add as needed. You may be short on these causing some issues. OM is low. But alfalfa usually puts down such a deep root it’s not a big deal. A poorly drained field could kill alfalfa if it’s wet but I doubt that. Last- I doubt it’s variety related. But not to say a better variety won’t do better.

on the weeds- that’s incredible. U r right- u got an issue!! That’s just crazy. That’s a complex issue right there..... did the stand thin way down or die off??? What comes to mind when I see that.... looks like some of alfalfa died- releasing large amounts of N - creating perfect conditions for weeds. If it died- then it’s “what are causes?” Did it thin or die off some? If so.... disease, insects, too wet, got smothered when baling, etc. has to be something.
 

mrush

Member
I haven’t noticed a decline in number of plants, it looks amazing in the spring and early summer then it shuts down.


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