Alfalfa is native to Asia and is one of the most important and commonly planted hay crops in the world. A long-lived perennial legume, alfalfa can grow up to three feet tall and produces clusters of purple flowers. It prefers deep, well-drained soils and is found throughout the entire United States. It’s generally grown for hay where it can be harvested several times a season. Alfalfa can also be partnered with grasses for pasture grazing, although it should be a small percentage of the overall forage content to avoid bloating. Scientific Name: Medicago sativa Seeding Rate: 15 lbs. / Acre
When milk prices are low, dairy producers begin to look for ways to reduce the direct input expenses of growing alfalfa. One option that growers have is to purchase lower cost alfalfa seed. Alfalfa seed of modern varieties can cost over $4.00 per pound, while older varieties can be purchased for $2.00 per pound or less. Is this difference in seed cost justified? Short-term price savings can be realized by purchasing inexpensive seed, but long-term profitability may be compromised. This Focus on Forage article will address the value of modern alfalfa varieties and compare the total cost of seed over the life of an alfalfa stand.
Features of Alfalfa Seed
- High yield potential – Forage yield drives the economics of alfalfa production. While it may appear that two varieties perform similarly, only a 1/10 ton lower yield per cutting can result in substantially lower profitability over the life of a stand.
- Disease resistance – Multiple disease resistance is an important risk management strategy. Many diseases do not affect the health of the alfalfa plant each year, but having disease resistance can prevent catastrophe and will likely show in large yield differences at least once during the life of the stand.
- Stand persistence / winter survival – Healthy alfalfa plants that persist throughout the productive life of the crop results in higher profitability. Stand persistence is often influenced by plant health, insect management, soil fertility, and climatic conditions. Wisconsin variety evaluations record stand percentage during each year of the alfalfa test, giving growers and additional tool for evaluating variety performance.
- Other selection criteria – When other yield, disease resistance, and stand persistence criteria are met, growers may want to consider forage quality, potato leafhopper resistance, or maturity as additional deciding factors.
Plant Alfalfa at 1/4″ depth in a soil bed that is moist, fertile and firm and at least 1/2″ depth on sandy soils.
Alfalfa prefers crumbly silt loam to sandy loam textures, but alfalfa will grow well on most deep, well-drained soils with adequate internal and surface drainage.
The pH level for alfalfa should be 6.5-7.2.
Alfalfa may be planted in spring or early fall.
*Do not harvest alfalfa seeded in late summer/early fall until the following spring.
*Alfalfa will die if the soil is saturated for an extended period.
|Item model number
|4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
|Best Sellers Rank
|#142,740 in Patio, Lawn & Garden
#425 in Grass Seed
|Is Discontinued By Manufacturer
Prices of Alfalfa Seed