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Alfalfa

mrush

Member
e34c55bb660c1be264b7b5432c3bd9e6.jpg

This is October 3rd last fall, I knocked the grass down u can see small alfalfa in there not doing much. Meanwhile I drive by fields that have beautiful lush green alfalfa about 6-8 inches tall at the same time of year in the same area.


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Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
e34c55bb660c1be264b7b5432c3bd9e6.jpg

This is October 3rd last fall, I knocked the grass down u can see small alfalfa in there not doing much. Meanwhile I drive by fields that have beautiful lush green alfalfa about 6-8 inches tall at the same time of year in the same area.


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Based on that.... it almost has to be variety then. I can’t think of any other explanation! Bizarre but keep updated & post results of New alfalfa seeding.
Nice tractor btw! Like it?
 

SB3

Active Member
Skip, what variety is that? I planted some Ameristand #480HVXRR last fall & this spring. What I planted last fall is starting to thicken up and look good, this spring's planting still has a ways to go but by next year I'm confident it'll look good too.
 

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
Skip, what variety is that? I planted some Ameristand #480HVXRR last fall & this spring. What I planted last fall is starting to thicken up and look good, this spring's planting still has a ways to go but by next year I'm confident it'll look good too.
I planted 4 varieties. To be honest- I’m happy with all of em. Most expensive was some pioneer variety - made for baling- lots of leaf but lot of tonnage. One I recall was Dairyland 3400 hybriforce… also did great.

i have to look them back up…. If u wanna bale- I’d do “a few different varieties” that are ideal for that & I can list what I got.

If u are going to clip it & more for deer…. Look at grazing types. FRIGID FORAGE - the food plot company has grazing type with a lot of leaves I planted. Really good. It’s very inexpensive as well & good on disease, etc. can email them for details but that’s a good deer variety that’s pretty easy to manage & very friendly on the cost.
 
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mrush

Member
I think I identified the problem I’ve been having. I paid closer attention this spring and discovered alfalfa weevil larva stripped about 1/2 my leaves. I would say they were there for about 2 weeks and then disappeared. Reading up on them sounds like they pupate then come back as adults later in the season and continue to suck the plants dry. Based on what I know so far it’s important to keep a close eye on your crop and be prepared to spray insecticide. I did not spray this spring because by the time I noticed the problem there were some weeds in the stand that were in flower, an application at that time could kill honeybees. Talked to guy at local AG supply place, insecticide has about 3 week residual, so timing is critical. Could spray ahead of any flowers and timed the residual to take out the weevil. Another good time would be shortly after cutting.


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Obsessed

Well-Known Member
I'm located just East of DSM, IA, (for geographical location). I've got a new thick 1+ acre alfalfa food plot that I've been baling this year. When's the best date range for taking the last cutting of the year if I want to have alfalfa in the field to attract and feed wildlife? I'm assuming I don't want to have 18 inch tall plants when the snow hits, but I also assume it won't do me any good to have nothing but stubble through fall/winter too. Thanks in advance.
 

mrush

Member
I'm located just East of DSM, IA, (for geographical location). I've got a new thick 1+ acre alfalfa food plot that I've been baling this year. When's the best date range for taking the last cutting of the year if I want to have alfalfa in the field to attract and feed wildlife? I'm assuming I don't want to have 18 inch tall plants when the snow hits, but I also assume it won't do me any good to have nothing but stubble through fall/winter too. Thanks in advance.

September 1 would be the latest you would want to make your last cutting. I don’t know if there would be any advantage to moving that date earlier. I think a lot of people use September 15th as the last cut date, to late in my opinion for good re growth.


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Obsessed

Well-Known Member
September 1 would be the latest you would want to make your last cutting. I don’t know if there would be any advantage to moving that date earlier. I think a lot of people use September 15thund asaro


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Thanks mrush! Much appreciated. My neighbor has been baling for me when he bales his own land. I'll request that he not hit my place after Sept 1st, and hopefully he's able to make my last cutting within a couple weeks prior to that date. Thanks again.
 

Obsessed

Well-Known Member
Alright, so my neighbor mowed my alfalfa late last week, raked it and will probably bale it this week, weather permitting. Is early to mid August too early for my last cutting of the season if I'm wanting to feed deer but not damage my alfalfa? Will I have too much vegetation mass going into winter that a heavy blanketing or driving snow will damage or kill my plants? Suggestions? (I asked my neighbor to not bale it beyond September 1st, but was hoping he would get me closer to that date than a full month prior.)
 

hillrunner

PMA Member
Alright, so my neighbor mowed my alfalfa late last week, raked it and will probably bale it this week, weather permitting. Is early to mid August too early for my last cutting of the season if I'm wanting to feed deer but not damage my alfalfa? Will I have too much vegetation mass going into winter that a heavy blanketing or driving snow will damage or kill my plants? Suggestions? (I asked my neighbor to not bale it beyond September 1st, but was hoping he would get me closer to that date than a full month prior.)
Your timing is perfect.
 

BearCreek

Member
Mowing

Wondering when you alfalfa growers mow your alfalfa plots? I was hoping to let mine flower for pollinator purposes but maybe I shouldn't let it get that tall since I'm using a "regular type" of mower. The weevils seem to be doing quite a bit of the mowing for me currently.
 

BearCreek

Member
My Experience with Alfalfa (Comprehensive)
I think I'm in a position to answer my own question at this point (I don't mind talking to myself as it is).

I planted equal parts multi-leaf and grazer varieties of alfalfa from Welters, per Welters recommendation for food plot purposes, on August 28, 2021. Seeded at a rate of 20lbs per acre, I also seeded chicory into the alfalfa. I chose to establish a pure stand of alfalfa (excepting chicory) as most blends I have seen that contain alfalfa seem to lose their alfalfa to clover over time.

My soil started at a PH of 6.4 so I previously added ag lime, pelletized lime, and crushed lime. I used all three because I changed the layout so I had to keep adding lime. I also added some 19-19-19 and some extra "P" and "K" before planting. Ground was formerly cattle pasture, I mowed, sprayed, burned, disced, tilled, and used a leveling implement. I seeded then cultipacked. The ground was fairly firm before seeding otherwise I would have cultipacked before and after seeding. I did not use a nurse crop with alfalfa. This plot is located in Hancock County, Illinois.

We had a good rain within a week of planting that allowed the seed to germinate. It then became unseasonably hot and dry for the next 45 days. I attempted to water the plot twice with a fairly elaborate setup that was time consuming and I'm not sure if it helped. Regardless, the rain came and the alfalfa flourished. The alfalfa sprouts tolerated the hot and dry conditions better than the white clover sprouts. It was highly selected by deer all hunting season, even through the snow.

The alfalfa came back in the spring early and vigorously. I sprayed in May with a grass selective herbicide. I had the plot mowed around the 4th of July and was concerned that it would smother from the debris. However, it did not and is coming back quite nicely. However, I may consider mowing it sooner next year.

Alfalfa probably outclasses clovers in attraction when both are actively growing. If I was in a high deer density area, I would definitely consider alfalfa as its growth is phenomenal and I would be impressed with any deer herd that could keep a sizable plot in check. That being said, a small .25 acre plot would also be a good choice as it would still provide a lot of tonnage, but would be easier to maintain and get the soil conditions where they need to be. In extremely high deer density areas, it may be necessary to fence deer out of alfalfa initially.

I would assume the ongoing fertilizer needs of traditional alfalfa fields won't be necessary in my plot as the alfalfa (and nutrients therein) not consumed by deer is being returned to the soil. One could easily, per dbltree's recommendation, have the plot hayed with the farmer paying the costs of inputs, that option wasn't available to me.

I'm only a year in, but in my plot, it has been unnecessary to bale. This could be due to the varieties I used. I hope someone finds this post helpful and that it encourages some folks to plant pure alfalfa plots.
 
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mrush

Member
That’s great info. I’ve scaled back the amount of Alfalfa I grow in exchange for a corn and soybean rotation. So I left about 5 acres and will be rotary mowing it for the time being to see how that goes to maintain deer food. I just started this this year so I don’t know how long this will work. It sounds like you are having good luck so far. We have a high deer density.


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Bassattackr

Active Member
Did earlier reading and found Dbltree seeded red clover with alfalfa as a good companion crop.

Anyone use a cereal grain as a nurse crop? Curious if I could establish in the fall with a cereal grain - Utilized as a food plot, then next spring / summer left with a nice Alfalfa / red clover field.

@Sligh1 - I noticed that Frigid Forage Mix (Wallhanger?), that was an alfalfa, clover and chicory blend. Maybe a fun one to try. Ever use it before?
 

SB3

Active Member
Did earlier reading and found Dbltree seeded red clover with alfalfa as a good companion crop.

Anyone use a cereal grain as a nurse crop? Curious if I could establish in the fall with a cereal grain - Utilized as a food plot, then next spring / summer left with a nice Alfalfa / red clover field.

@Sligh1 - I noticed that Frigid Forage Mix (Wallhanger?), that was an alfalfa, clover and chicory blend. Maybe a fun one to try. Ever use it before?

I have in the past but don't anymore. I now use RR seed and plant in the spring. You can absolutely broadcast wheat, rye or bob oats anytime now with your alfalfa. I wouldn't go heavy, it can be competition for nutes, water and sunlight. Never tried red clover
 

Hunter Brunk

New Member
Did earlier reading and found Dbltree seeded red clover with alfalfa as a good companion crop.

Anyone use a cereal grain as a nurse crop? Curious if I could establish in the fall with a cereal grain - Utilized as a food plot, then next spring / summer left with a nice Alfalfa / red clover field.

@Sligh1 - I noticed that Frigid Forage Mix (Wallhanger?), that was an alfalfa, clover and chicory blend. Maybe a fun one to try. Ever use it before?
My favorite way of establishing clover or alfalfa is with the Dbltree rye blend in the fall. It is crazy how much easier it is to establish and almost no weeds the next year with the rye's allelopathic properties. Can go a little lighter on the rye maybe 50-100 lbs per acre so it doesn't dominate.

Never used the frigid forage mix but we really like the whitetail institute alfalfa/clover/chicory blend, they are probably pretty comparable. Has never failed really. One big plot that we have bailed has mostly converted to all alfalfa but the ones we just mow stay a really nice blend. Its almost cheaper than some of these alfalfa varieties and a lot easier to understand for food plotters.
 

Bassattackr

Active Member
My favorite way of establishing clover or alfalfa is with the Dbltree rye blend in the fall. It is crazy how much easier it is to establish and almost no weeds the next year with the rye's allelopathic properties. Can go a little lighter on the rye maybe 50-100 lbs per acre so it doesn't dominate.

Never used the frigid forage mix but we really like the whitetail institute alfalfa/clover/chicory blend, they are probably pretty comparable. Has never failed really. One big plot that we have bailed has mostly converted to all alfalfa but the ones we just mow stay a really nice blend. Its almost cheaper than some of these alfalfa varieties and a lot easier to understand for food plotters.

Yep, done the clover thing with rye quite a bit, works well. Alfalfa seems to be a little slower growing out of the gate so don’t want to suffocate either, hence why I asked.
 

BearCreek

Member
My vote is not to mix clover with alfalfa, certainly can, but clover likes to out-compete alfalfa over time, at least white clover. I fall seeded my alfalfa without a nurse crop but did blend with chicory. Very happy with results. Alfalfa has its own allelopathic properties so I wouldn't be afraid to plant as a monoculture.
 

Bassattackr

Active Member
My vote is not to mix clover with alfalfa, certainly can, but clover likes to out-compete alfalfa over time, at least white clover. I fall seeded my alfalfa without a nurse crop but did blend with chicory. Very happy with results. Alfalfa has its own allelopathic properties so I wouldn't be afraid to plant as a monoculture.

Agree, wouldn't plant with white due to stolon growth. Was only thinking about blending with a red clover.
 
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