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Alfalfa Production Practices
Each crop has a set of circumstances under which it can reach optimum performance. The requirements are somewhat higher, but the rewards in feed production and resulting milk and meat production justify the crops' needs.
Soils: Alfalfa does best in deep, fertile, well drained soils. Internal drainage is most important. It is well adapted to sloping fields.
Soil pH and fertility: Alfalfa needs soil pH in a range from 6.5 to 7.2 to maximize establishment and production. Fields requiring lime to meet these requirements need to be limed 18 to 24 months ahead of Alfalfa establishment. Medium high to high levels of phosphorous and potash are needed for optimum production and continued growth. Soil tests provide an accurate means to identify crop needs. As a rule, Alfalfa removes 15-20# of P, 60-70# of K and 1/2# of Boron per ton of dry hay produced and removed. Maintenance applications should be split and applied after 1st and 3rd cuttings. Manure applications should be made when Alfalfa is dormant.
Seedbed preparation: For optimum stand establishment a fine, firm seedbed and shallow seed placement led to great success. Seedbed should be firmed prior to seed placement. The best equipment presses the seed into the soil after placement. Successful seeding can be done by broadcasting seed on to a firmed seedbed and using a cultipacker to press the seed into the soil. No-till establishment can be successful providing competition from an existing sod or competitive vegetation is chemically controlled. Care in seed placement is vital in all methods. Optimum seeding depth is 1/4 to 1/2 inches.
Variety selection: This is one of the most important steps. Climatic adaption (dormancy), resistance to Phytophthora Root Rot, Bacterial Wilt and Anthracnose, feed value are the criteria for making this decision. Varieties such as Ameristand 403T ,ABT 405 and RedBird 6600 are excellent choices.
Seeding Rate: Rates depend somewhat on the seeding equipment. Optimum stands require 15# to 18# per acre drilled, 20# to 25# if broadcast.
Time of Seeding: Spring or summer seedings can be equally successful if soil moisture conditions are adequate. Spring seedings germinate and establish more uniformly when soil temperatures reach 60 degrees F. Summer seedings must be made in time to allow Alfalfa 8 to 10 weeks to establish a crown prior to soil freeze.
Harvest: Alfalfa reaches peak feed value at bud formation. Feed value is 75% in leaves so harvesting methods must concentrate on minimizing leaf loss.
Weed Control: Several chemical herbicides are now licensed for weed control in Alfalfa and allow for efficient control of broadleaf weeds and grasses. Consult with your chemical dealer to determine your options.
FSG 408DP ALFALFA
FSG 408DP alfalfa has been bred for deep-set crowns with 61% of the crowns 1 inch to 11⁄2 inches below the soil surface. The deep-set crown trait helps insulate the crown in severe winter weather and protect the crown from animal and equipment traffic. This versatile variety is ideal for three to four cut management sytems where wheel traffic is a concern, or for intensive livestock grazing year after year. With high hay yields, great forage quality, and an excellent disease and insect resistance package, FSG 408DP gives you the flexibility to optimize your management decisions.
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