‘Fall’ Alfalfa Seeding in August

Jul 25, 2023


close-up of alfalfa plant
Technically it’s not autumn for another eight weeks, but when it comes to alfalfa seeding, fall is now.
 
Alfalfa is a high-value crop that can yield well for three to five years, but “you only get one chance to do it right,” said Craig Loen, Federated agronomist at the Osceola location. “Make sure you have all your ducks in a row when it comes to fall alfalfa seeding.”
 
Here are a few pointers to get those “ducks” lined up:
  • Do a soil test to check pH, P1, and K levels.
    • Medium-high test results are optimum for nutrient availability, “and for your alfalfa to flourish,” said Loen.
    • Soil pH needs to be at 6.8-7.0. “It takes a couple of years to fully activate ag lime. You need to plan in advance for alfalfa seeding.
  • Prepare a good seed bed, one that is smooth and firm. “You should be able to bounce a basketball on it,” said Loen.
    • Ensure good soil-to-seed contact by rolling after seeding.
  • Seed in early August – by the 10th, if possible.
    • Variables for planting include soil moisture, previous crop, and previously applied herbicides. (Some herbicides have an 18-month rotational crop planting window.)
    • The planting window needs to allow time for the seeds to germinate, get roots well established, and set the crown before a hard frost.
  • Choose the right alfalfa.
    • Multiple options: conventional, RoundUp® Ready, and HarvXtra®.
    • The variety you choose should be determined by the end use: dairy, beef, sheep, goats, horses, or for sale. Your local Federated Agronomist can help determine which variety best meets your needs.
 
Alfalfa seeding is a look-back and look-forward proposition. Look back two years (at what was planted and applied to the field). Look forward up to five years to set your production goals.
 
Good planning will produce the best possible yields of nutrient-rich alfalfa. Talk to your Federated Agronomist with any questions (and/or to arrange for soil testing).
 

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