True or False: Taking the last alfalfa cutting will not hurt my stands?

Weigh these factors to determine the right answer for the final cut of your alfalfa fields.

During this time of the year, many alfalfa producers are asking what they should do concerning the last cutting of alfalfa.  Let’s consider these questions and see how you answer them…

  1. My stands will sustain winter damage if I cut them today. T or F
  2. I need to cut my fields for extra feed. T or F
  3. I need to cut my fields short and take everything I can. T or F
  4. I need to fertilize my fields this fall to make sure I have a healthy stand. T or F

Although you can never guarantee anything when it comes to weather, winter snow cover, and alfalfa stands not having a problem, there are some probabilities to use that can help make the decision easier. 

For question 1, the answer can change with each day passing according to research.   Probability maps are available at the Michigan State University Extension Forage Information Systems website. If you’re concerned that the stand will be hurt because of wet conditions, it’s an easy answer to not cut.

For questions 2 and 3, if you need the feed, the weather will be a hindrance if you want dry hay.  But, if you are able to make haylage or baleage, go ahead and cut but leave approximately six inches of stubble to hold snow cover.

For question 4, if you have sandy soils it’s always best to put potassium on as close to the time you need it as possible due to potential leaching.  If you have additional discounts and feel it’s a good investment to fertilize, there won’t be any harm in putting fertilizer on according to soil test recommendations.

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