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5 Keys To Making Quality Alfalfa

5 Keys To Making Quality Alfalfa

Here are 5 key factors to look out for when making quality alfalfa:

1) Seed type and dormancy

  • It is crucial to choose the correct seed type and dormancy for the type of alfalfa you need.

  • The correct seed is also important for the soil and environmental conditions of your field.

2) Irrigation schedule

  • If you are using irrigation, make sure to size fields appropriately so that entire field can be irrigated in a few hours instead of days.

  • This will make sure that entire field has homogeneous maturity.

  • Consider the water availability options now as well as future.

3) Harvesting time

  • Calendar date is poor at predicting when to harvest quality alfalfa.

  • Use Predictive Equations for Alfalfa Quality (PEAQ) and stick to estimated quality within 15 - 20 points of relative feed value (RFV) or 2 pounds of ADF.

  • This is to account for point loss between cutting and confection.

4) Nutrient loss

  • It is estimated that 20 to 40 points of RFV is lost between cutting and harvesting.

  • This is mainly due to plant continuing to breathe after it is cut and consuming its most digestible nutrients as it does so.

  • Hence, exposing the entire plant to ultraviolet ray is recommended as it slows down the plant breathing.

  • Laying the plant flat can have positive effects as the plant will lock in highly digestible and valuable nutrients in the plant after harvest.

5) Dirt contamination

  • Normal ash of alfalfa is around 8% - 10%.

  • Anything above 10% is considered excessive dirt contamination.

  • You can reduce dirt contamination by:

  • Setting header height to be more than 2 inch

  • Use flat knives

  • Reduce furrow height

  • Harvest level fields.

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