It’s Time to Start Thinking About Harvesting Alfalfa Fields

Alfalfa development has continued to mature over the past week. NDF measurements were taken in four counties across the state (Table 1). Alfalfa harvesting has already begun across the state especially for producers harvesting for high producing dairy cattle.

Table 1. Average NDF in Pure Alfalfa Stands Across Ohio

Date

Location

Average NDF

5/17/21

Clark

36.80%

5/17/21

Pike

32.10%

5/17/21

Tuscarawas

35%

5/17/21

Stark

Harvested

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alfalfa producers should watch alfalfa development closely in the next week. With temperature in the upper 70s and low 80s alfalfa development will likely continue to mature at rapid pace. The statewide weather forecast for the remainder of the week looks moderately favorable for harvesting. Producers should consider harvesting as soon as weather permits if they want a high-quality alfalfa forage.

Producers can rapidly estimate NDF in the field using the PEAQ (Predictive Equations for Alfalfa Quality). A short video describing the method used to estimate NDF in the field can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNV9umS9v1s

Keep in mind that this method is for pure alfalfa stands. Grasses will raise the NDF content. Grass-alfalfa mixtures should be harvested as soon as conditions allow if they are intended for lactating dairy cows. Estimating NDF of mixed grass-alfalfa uses alfalfa height and % grass in the stand on a dry matter basis. The link to the table can be found here : https://cpb-us-e1.wpmucdn.com/blogs.cornell.edu/dist/e/1628/files/2016/03/Mixed-Alfalfa-Grass-NDF-Estimation-Table-1d56yhp.pdf.  

Crop Observation and Recommendation Network

C.O.R.N. Newsletter is a summary of crop observations, related information, and appropriate recommendations for Ohio crop producers and industry. C.O.R.N. Newsletter is produced by the Ohio State University Extension Agronomy Team, state specialists at The Ohio State University and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). C.O.R.N. Newsletter questions are directed to Extension and OARDC state specialists and associates at Ohio State.