Friday, May 7, 2010

In early April growers were busy preparing and seeding this years alfalfa crop.Fine firm seedbeds are the order of the day in establishing good alfalfa stands.A fine firm seedbed helps both seat the seed at the right depth and holds moisture for uniform early germination.Ideal seding depths are between 1/4 and 1/2 inch.The number one reason for poor stand establishment in alfalfa is seeding TOO DEEP.You can't beat cultipacking a field both before and after seeding like that shown above and below.

Alfalfa is best seeded on well drained friable soils.Hard pan soggy soils are no place for alfalfa.To grow persistent stands that will produce 5 tonne of dry matter per acre you will need to keep soil PH's above 6.5.Alflafa is a heavy feeder of Calcium and magnesium.Nearly 30 lb of Calcium is removed per tonne and nearly 10 lb of Magnesium.High Soil Phosphorus and potash levels are also required as close to 15 lbs of P205 and 50 lbs of K20 are removed per tonne of dry matter produced.

Alfalfa is best seeded at somewhere between 16 and 20 lb per acre.Higher seeding rates will provide higher leaf to stem ratios in the initial seeding year which is the preference of many high producing dairy herds.The addition of 2-3 lb of a grass like timothy is sometimes preferred by producers putting up baled hay as the grass will help in the drying process.Double click on the above photo and you will see how these young alfalfa seedlings are progressing.

Many of last years seedings look strong like that shown here.Growth has been exceptionally strong this spring and first cut yields of last years seedings look like they could be exceptional.

First cut harvest could start as early as the last week of May for those producers taking cuts at 1/10 bloom.Pioneer provides alfalfa varieties that will cover the entire spectrum of growers needs.Pioneer brand 55V48 and 54V46 are exceptionally high yielding varieties bred for the intensive alfalfa manager who prefers to harvest 3-4 cuts of big tonnage high quality alflafa silage per year.
Pioneer brand 53Q30 and 54Q25 can be used for producing good high tonnage alfalfa silage but are best positioned with growers preferring to put up high quality alflafa hay.For producers in need of a Leafhopper resistant variety Pioneer offers Pioneer brand 54H91.

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