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Old 12-25-2013, 12:30 PM
Bullwinkle Bullwinkle is offline
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Default Cover crop for alfalfa

This spring I plan on trying to plant a good alfalfa field to see how it performs against white clover and soybeans. I plan on no till drilling the alfalfa at a rate of 18lb/acre and doing the recommended chemistry improvements from the soil test

I know it is a good practice to have a cover crop. I have a bag of BFO left over. If I drill it all in it would be 35lb/acre. Is this enough for a cover crop? What rate is the best? Oats are cheap if I need more.
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Old 12-25-2013, 02:12 PM
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FarmerDan FarmerDan is offline
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You are going to get a lot of advice and you'll be told the best time to plant alfalfa is in the fall, that the table is stacked against you with a spring seeding.

All mostly true. But, I for one, don't think very far ahead. I hate for it to be spring and think I need to wait until fall to plant a crop that isn't going to bring much if any benefit for a year!?

I can't grow alfalfa here. It's all clover. But, in another life, I managed a couple of dairies in Upstate NY. We'd mostly plant alfalfa in the spring, early as we could get on the ground. And, we'd use oats as a nurse crop. A bushel or more.

Since you want oats only as a nurse crop, don't use more than a bushel. More competes with and reduces the seedling alfalfa survival rate.

So do it! I think you're spot on!

Now, alfalfa is tough! Field and climate ecology need to be just right -- in any season. Good luck!

http://www.midwestforage.org/pdf/182.pdf.pdf
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Old 12-25-2013, 03:33 PM
Bullwinkle Bullwinkle is offline
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The farmers around me do this all the time. If it doesn't work I can easily redo it in the fall

Thanks for the info
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Old 12-25-2013, 03:58 PM
shmoopy shmoopy is online now
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Bookmark this link and read it through over the winter. Everything you EVER need to know about growing alfalfa!

https://www.crops.org/files/publicat...ment-guide.pdf
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Old 12-25-2013, 05:45 PM
dogghr dogghr is offline
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Forget the spring planting. Plant in fall with WR and a light dose of clovers. I throw in some AWP and oats to help manage early browse.
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Old 12-25-2013, 07:40 PM
Bullwinkle Bullwinkle is offline
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Thanks - that article is awesome. Recommends spring planting in the north w/o a nurse crop. If a near crop is used 1-1.5 bushels of oats/acre. My 50lb bag should be perfect

Fall planting of alfalfa is recommended in the south
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Old 12-25-2013, 08:40 PM
NWKR NWKR is offline
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We always did spring planting with oats as a nurse crop. We needed a crap load of lime to get alfalfa going though. Most of the times I see oats planted these days in the parts of MN I see it is as a cover crop for alfalfa.

Do you think that you will need to cut the alfalfa to keep it from getting to mature/stemmy? Or will your high deer populations keep it down?
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Old 12-25-2013, 10:17 PM
Bullwinkle Bullwinkle is offline
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I am planting 1.4 acres. I would guess the oats will win and I have a farmer who will cut it for me. Same with the alfalfa if it gets too high

Just experimenting for fun. If this fails I will regroup in the fall

I bet soybeans will be the #1 attractant over the alfalfa.
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Old 12-26-2013, 07:41 AM
schlag schlag is offline
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Since you have a farmer cutting it...Get RR Alfalfa. This way you can have easy weed control. Having cut for hay at a certain point is a requirement to plant it.
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Old 12-26-2013, 09:24 AM
MOBuckChaser MOBuckChaser is offline
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RR Alfalfa costs about $350 for a 50lb bag. Conventional Vernal Alfalfa is $145. You can spray the Conventional Alfalfa new seeding with Buctril to kill the BL's. But the RR Alfalfa sure is nice because you can spray the weeds every year. But at over $100 an acre for just the seed it can get expensive if it winter kills!

Good Luck!
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