Presentation on theme: "Alfalfa Production Introduction and Evaluation Introduction Medicago sativa Introduced into US 1736 Oldest cultivated forage crop Rich in protein, vitamins,"— Presentation transcript:
Alfalfa Production Introduction and Evaluation
Introduction Medicago sativa Introduced into US 1736 Oldest cultivated forage crop Rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals Very high yield
Benefits Beneficial insects Attracts wildlife Nitrogen fixation Alfalfa replaces high N-requiring crops Alfalfa provides N to a subsequent crop Improves Soil Tilth Protect groundwater
Basics Grown for seed,meal, cover, mostly for hay California, South Dakota, Wisconsin, & Minnesota are leading alfalfa states Alfalfa lives from 5 to 7 years
Plant Biology Alfalfa is a legume Grow about 3 ft.high & compound leaves Stems grow from buds on crown (base) Racemes. Alfalfa roots feet or more under favorable conditions
Types of Alfalfa Hardy northern part of the US and in Canada. Medium hardy are raised mainly in the central United States. Nonhardy thrive on irrigated land in the Western United States
Growing Alfalfa Flourish in fertile, well-drained soil that is neutral or slightly alkaline Plant in early spring or late summer Cut after the plants begin to produce flower buds, but before the seed pods form.
Variety Selection Factors Yield Potential -5% improvement in yield Stand Persistence- <5 plants/square ft. Hardiness & Dormancy Disease and Insect Resistance
Visual evaluation Stage of maturity-maturity at harvest influences quality more than any other factor. Leafiness-contain highly digestible energy and at least two-thirds of the protein found in hay. Color-bright green is a good indicator of proper curing, good palatability. Foreign material-weeds and straw have little or no feeding value Odor and condition
Designations Premium-Prebloom stage low fiber, high energy/protein TDN (54% and higher) Good-Early bloom stage, low to medium fiber, high protein and energy TDN (52-54 %) Fair-Mid-late bloom coarse texture TDN (49- 52%) Poor- full to late bloom very coarse very little leaf TDN (<49%)
Laboratory analyses Quality Designations: Relative Feed Value Acid Detergent Fiber Crude Protein RFV ADF CP Supreme Over 180 Under or over Premium Good Fair
Laboratory analyses Dry matter (DM) Crude protein (CP) Acid detergent fiber (ADF) Total digestible nutrients (TDN) Relative feed value (RFV)
Alfalfa Perennial Deep rooted Needs good soil & Good Drainage Dormant, Semi Dormant, Non-Dormant
Seedbed Preparation Heavy work Disc 2x’s with stubble disk Sub soil Finish work Landplane 2x’s Put up borders
Plant September and sprinkled up Brillion seeder lbs./ac 15 lbs./ac = 64 plants/sq. ft. 25 lbs./ac = 107 plants/sq. ft. 35 lbs./ac = 150 plants/sq. ft. 45 lbs./ac = 193 plants/sq. ft.
Plant Time Fall or Spring Method Broadcast Drill Depth Lightly cover
Irrigation Problems = Too Soon Too Much Too Little Too Late Alfalfa will extract: 46% of its water from the top 2’ 26% of its water from the top 2’-4’ 18% of its water from the top 4’-6’ 10% of its water from the top 6’-8’
Irrigation Total for season 4’-5’ Timing 1 st. Irrigation critical 1 st. Choice is no irrigation before 1 st. Cutting Number of irrigations Depends on the number of cutting and weather conditions Source of water Ditch water or well water
Irrigation Loss – wind, temperature, radiation, Humidity ET – Evapotranspiration Rate KMJ
Pests – Egyptian Alfalfa Weevil 1. Alfalfa caterpillar 2. Army worm 3. Aphids 4. Alfalfa Weevil (Hypera postica) 5. Egyptian Alfalfa Weevil( Hypera Brunneipennis) Different Species but almost identical in most respects.
A. Thrive in cool spring weather B. Adults lay eggs in the stem C. When the eggs hatch, the larvae emerge and begin feeding on the leaves. D. So. Calif. & Arizona - Feb to April E. No. Calif. – March to May F. Weevils generally affect 1-2 cuttings G. Parasitic wasp (Bathyplectes curulionis) H. Furadan – Permit & gets bees I. Lorsban – non permit & doesn’t bother bees.
Diseases A. Phytophthora – moisture related B. Nematodes – Sandy Soils C. Leafspot – spotted leaves D. Anthracnose – Leaf E. Rhizoctonia crown; moisture related. F. Fusarium – Wilt
Weed control in established stand Main weeds Fiddle neck, chickweed, foxtail, groundsel, Malva, curly dock, ect.. Control Depends on the time of year and type of weed.
Fertilization of established stand Spring 250lbs./ac ammonium phosphate Lime
Harvesting Days ( depends on the farmer) Re-growth of shoot and maturity. Swather – windrows Rake – 55% - 65% moisture Bale 17% - 23% Cured – 10% - 12%
Harvesting Swather cost Curing time Depends on weather Raking Types 41/2 to 5 mph Lube every 50 – 75 hours Baling Big bale Small bale Moisture
Custom Harvest Swath Rake Bale Roadside
Yields Tons per acre 6 to 8 tons per acre Number of cuttings 6 to 8 Cash cost per acre