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Alfalfa Production Introduction and Evaluation Introduction Medicago sativa Introduced into US 1736 Oldest cultivated forage crop Rich in protein, vitamins,

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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:


2 Alfalfa Production Introduction and Evaluation

3 Introduction Medicago sativa Introduced into US 1736 Oldest cultivated forage crop Rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals Very high yield

4 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


6 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


8 Consumers Dairy = 60% Meat Animals = 25% Horses = 15%

9 Plant Biology Alfalfa is a legume Grow about 3 ft.high & compound leaves Stems grow from buds on crown (base) Racemes. Alfalfa roots 25-30 feet or more under favorable conditions

10 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

11 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.

12 Variety Selection Factors Yield Potential -5% improvement in yield Stand Persistence- <5 plants/square ft. Hardiness & Dormancy Disease and Insect Resistance

13 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

14 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%)

15 Laboratory analyses Quality Designations: Relative Feed Value Acid Detergent Fiber Crude Protein RFV ADF CP Supreme Over 180 Under 27.22 or over Premium 150-180 27-29.20-.22 Good 125-150 29-32.18-.20 Fair 100-125 32-35.15-.18

16 Laboratory analyses Dry matter (DM) Crude protein (CP) Acid detergent fiber (ADF) Total digestible nutrients (TDN) Relative feed value (RFV)

17 Alfalfa Perennial Deep rooted Needs good soil & Good Drainage Dormant, Semi Dormant, Non-Dormant

18 Alfalfa Deep loam 8’ – 40’ Ph – 6.5 – 7.5 Level fields – irrigation slope.2’ -.4’/100’

19 Seedbed Laser level Borders 100’ – 200’ wide (Border Machine) Pre-plant fertilizer = 6-20-20, 9-19-0, 11-46-0 Pre-plant Herbicide = incorporated – eptan, balan. Established – Karmex, treflan

20 Seedbed Preparation Heavy work Disc 2x’s with stubble disk Sub soil Finish work Landplane 2x’s Put up borders

21 Plant September and sprinkled up Brillion seeder 25-30 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.

22 Plant Time Fall or Spring Method Broadcast Drill Depth Lightly cover

23 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’

24 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

25 Irrigation Loss – wind, temperature, radiation, Humidity ET – Evapotranspiration Rate KMJ

26 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.

27 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.

28 Diseases A. Phytophthora – moisture related B. Nematodes – Sandy Soils C. Leafspot – spotted leaves D. Anthracnose – Leaf E. Rhizoctonia - @ crown; moisture related. F. Fusarium – Wilt

29 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.

30 Fertilization of established stand Spring 250lbs./ac ammonium phosphate 11-52-0 Lime

31 Harvesting 24-35 Days ( depends on the farmer) Re-growth of shoot and maturity. Swather – windrows Rake – 55% - 65% moisture Bale 17% - 23% Cured – 10% - 12%

32 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

33 Custom Harvest Swath Rake Bale Roadside

34 Yields Tons per acre 6 to 8 tons per acre Number of cuttings 6 to 8 Cash cost per acre

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