news > 5 Preseason Tips for a Strong Alfalfa Crop

5 Preseason Tips for a Strong Alfalfa Crop

Mar 08, 2021

Here are five considerations as you plan your 2021 alfalfa management and input choices:

1. Select the right varieties for your acres.
A successful season starts by finding the right seed for your fields. Matching the right variety to your field's environment and soils, including weed control and disease resistance, is the foundation to a successful alfalfa stand.

2. Maintain optimal soil fertility for yield and quality.
If your soil's nutrients (pH, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, and boron) are running low or missing, alfalfa plants will not be able produce to the quality that the genetics can provide. Soil and plant tissue testing is always a good idea to help maintain proper nutrient levels in your fields.

3. Pay attention to previous crop chemistry.
Many products used in corn and soybean weed control programs have a long residual period that can impact alfalfa establishment. Be sure to carefully review labels of previously-applied herbicide products.

4. Understand the importance of seed treatments.
Alfalfa seed is often planted in cool and wet soils so it is important to consider buying seed that contains quality fungicide seed treatments to help seedlings survive and get off to a healhty start. Research has demonstrated that alfalfa seedlings with coated seed tend to have more vigor when diseases are present,* which helps preserve the stand establishment and yield potential of the alfalfa crop.      

5. Develop a season-long management plan
Disease and insect protection for established alfalfa is vital to retaining leaves, the most high quality part of alfalfa plants. A broad-spectrum insecticide can help manage in-season insect pressure. And adding a foliar fungicide treatment such as Headline® or Priaxor® on first and second cutting and late summer cuttings can help maintain leaf retention and improve yield potential.

Talk to your Central Counties advisor for more information about the best alfalfa mangagement straegy for your fields.

*Study by Forage Genetics International, West Salem, WI, 2018.

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