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Take Time to Evaluate Alfalfa Before Row-Crop Planting Season

Just In | NE

Posted on: Apr 15th 2019

Source: Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska Extension

In the rush to get into corn and soybean fields this spring, don't take your alfalfa for granted.

It is critical that alfalfa growers evaluate their fields in the next couple of weeks to make sure they don't miss making some important decisions.

First is weed control. Last fall provided excellent weather conditions, both moisture and  temperature, to start a bumper crop of winter annual weeds like mustards, pennycress, and wild oats or downy brome.  If you want to prevent these weeds from damaging your first cutting, you must act now to apply the right herbicides before your alfalfa develops much growth.

Next comes evaluating your alfalfa stand.  With all the alternative cropping and forage options available to you, there is no good excuse for having low production from fields due to a thin stand of alfalfa. If alfalfa stands in your fields have declined to the point where you should make additions like oats for extra hay this year or orchardgrass and festulolium for more permanent help, these plantings need to be done now, before your alfalfa gets too much of a head start and overwhelms later new 
seedlings.

An inspection now can also help determine whether the field needs to be rotated to another crop and a whole new field of alfalfa planted.

Even a short delay in assessing your alfalfa stand could make it difficult to make important decisions for this year's crop.

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