10 Tips to Top Alfalfa Tonnage
- Select a field with good drainage and free of weeds. Weed control should be done prior to stand establishment.
- Lime your fields 6 months to a year prior to seeding. Soil pH should be 6.8 to 7.5.
- Soil test. Phosphorous levels should be 70-80 lbs., Potassium 400-500 lbs., Boron 3 lbs. and Sulfur 40 lbs.
- Prepare a firm seedbed. Firm seed to soil contact is necessary for maximum emergence.
- Choose an alfalfa with the genetic background to repay you for your extra efforts.
- Plant alfalfa seeds ¼”-½” deep. Seed 18-20 lbs. per acre with direct seeding, 15-18 lbs. per acre with a nurse crop.
- Monitor insects. Alfalfa weevil during the first crop and Potato Leaf Hopper during the second through fourth crop. Adjust cutting schedules or spray as needed.
- Fight diseases with broad disease resistance base.
- Harvest forage at late bud stage for maximum forage yield and quality. Do not harvest from September 1 through October 15 to allow root carbohydrates to replenish themselves.
- Maintain fertility. Top dress after 1st and 3rd cuttings. Each ton of forage removes 12 lbs. of Phosphorus, 50 lbs. of Potassium, 0.4 lbs. of Boron and 6 lbs. of Sulfur.
Race 1 resistance for Anthracnose and Aphanomyces.
Fall Dormancy Scale: 1 = least fall growth to 9 = greatest fall growth
Winter Survival Index: 1.5 = superior winter survival, 2.0 = very good, 2.5 = good to very good, 3 = good, 4 = adequate, 5 = low, 6 = no winter survival
DRI (Disease Resistance Index): 6 = lowest resistance to 30 = highest resistance
Disease/Insect Ratings: Highly Resistant (> 50% of plants of resistance), Resistant (31 - 50%), Moderately Resistant (15 - 30%), Low Resistance (6 - 14%), Susceptible (< 6%)