Alfalfa advice?

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Alfalfa advice?

Jul 14, 2020 | 15:11 1 So I seeded down a quarter of hay. It is an alfalfa/Timothy/orchard grass blend. Oat stubble, no nurse crop. Pre seed burn off day before seeding. Seeded June 6th. Got a great kill on volunteer oats.

But the oats had been flattened by snow before combining, so there was a lot of shelling before combining. Now, it is a pretty much wild mess of vigorous oats. Very fertile soil, oats a very nice green without any nutrients added.

My point. I am worried the new forage may get smothered by the thick and juicy oat crop coming. Your not supposed to cut alfalfa before about 60 days post seeding. First thought is take the oats off as greenfeed, and this May let the alfalfa recover when the competition is removed, but I assume this will wreck the alfalfa if it’s cut that early. Do I just leave the oats and combine it? Can cut high enough to leave the alfalfa that way. But still scared the oats will outcompete the forages, and be a wreck? Ie, non established hay?

What do you guys with forage experience say?

Thanks for all thoughts... Reply With Quote
Jul 14, 2020 | 15:26 2 The last couple of alfalfa crops we seeded were with about 60lbs of oats, then cut for green feed. Reply With Quote
Jul 14, 2020 | 15:37 3
Quote Originally Posted by Sodbuster View Post
The last couple of alfalfa crops we seeded were with about 60lbs of oats, then cut for green feed.
How long after seeding and how big was the alfalfa? And did you set to cut higher than usual to leave alfalfa alone?

Finally did the alfalfa establish fine in spite of getting an early haircut? Reply With Quote
Jul 14, 2020 | 16:01 4 What you describe sounds very much like what we do to establish new seeding alfalfa and grasses.

This spring we cut the seeding rate to about 85 - 90 lbs/ac of oats,. barley and peas. Wrong move - the frigid weather, snow, hard frosts, was brutal on the cereals.It took 3 weeks to fully emerge.
So instead of cutting it at 65 days, it was about 74 days after planting.

The alfalfa was about 6" to 1' tall already, likely largely due to the thin cover crop stand.

It was really hot and fairly dry over this time, but then we got good rain - 12 days after cutting - and the alfalfa is growing beautifully. About 4" tall now, 2 weeks after cutting the triple mix.

That's about a perfect outcome, but that's with our climate. I don't know what you are faced with.

Sounds like you should have some really nice feed from those volunteer oats.

We usually sow 110 lbs./ac and that's what I will do again in the future. But your oats "seeding" rate is likely much higher than that? Reply With Quote
Jul 14, 2020 | 16:40 5 If your moisture situation is good I would go ahead and cut it now, cut it as high as you can though, even if you have to pick up some higher clearance skid shoes. If it’s on the dry side leave it and combine it high Reply With Quote
Jul 14, 2020 | 17:16 6 I think the oats would be equal to say 100 lbs. It is a ways from heading, the equivalent as though it were seeded on the sixth of June, so a ways away. Alfalfa is real small, second to fourth trifoliolate leaf stage, tallest one I saw might be four inches tall?

Goofiest thing is the oats honestly looks like it could yield a hundred bpa or so, based on plant stand, broadness of leaves, and its healthy color. I might be money ahead because of that to combine it and see what becomes of the alfalfa. Moisture conditions are very, very close to too wet. I wouldn’t be out much if the oats choked it out, especially if it yielded like it looks it could. But I lose a year, and need the hay.

Ahh decisions. Thanks for the thoughts so far. Reply With Quote
Jul 14, 2020 | 17:42 7 The trouble if you try to harvest it is that if it lays to long in the swath before it’s combined the alfalfa under the swath suffers. If you cut it for greenfeed you can always rake it if it’s sitting to long. Reply With Quote
  • 1 Like


  • Jul 14, 2020 | 18:01 8
    Quote Originally Posted by Sodbuster View Post
    The trouble if you try to harvest it is that if it lays to long in the swath before it’s combined the alfalfa under the swath suffers. If you cut it for greenfeed you can always rake it if it’s sitting to long.
    I straight cut everything, but yeah I wondered about the forage in the swath aspect for sure. Hard to get greenfeed to dry at the best of times in this country, I picture myself rolling the swath over until it ventually disintegrates. Lol Reply With Quote
    Jul 14, 2020 | 18:24 9 The only time I have ever had a total wreck with alfalfa was when I left a cover crop of oats a week too long before cutting on a somewhat dry year. If you have lots of moisture you can get away with almost anything but I would not leave it until harvest. Harvest is supposed to be dry and Im afraid if the dry didnt damage or kill it the winter might cutting it that late. If it were mine I would leave it a while yet if you have moisture but at some point in the not too distant future take it off and the alfalfa should grow like a weed before getting frosted in the fall. JMO Reply With Quote
    Jul 14, 2020 | 19:42 10
    Quote Originally Posted by Sheepwheat View Post
    I straight cut everything, but yeah I wondered about the forage in the swath aspect for sure. Hard to get greenfeed to dry at the best of times in this country, I picture myself rolling the swath over until it ventually disintegrates. Lol

    Growing it is very common around here. Everyone cuts it one day and bales it the next and wraps it in a tube. Costs more, but you get top quality feed. No losses from raking or adverse weather. What value do you put on reduced stress cuz you're not watching it get rained on for a week or two...

    Can blow it in a pile or bunker and cover it too, if you have the equipment.

    Another consideration is the cost of your grass seed ad future yield. If the oats holds it back and reduces stand, you will feel that for as long as the field is seeded down. Reply With Quote
    GDR
    Jul 14, 2020 | 23:29 11 Best option is to silage it off in August if you can use it or sell it, then it still has some fall to regrow, or else wait till a good frost. Combining can leave too much patchy straw and green feed can take too long to get the swaths off. It will be fine, as others have said most of us plant a cover crop anyhow, last year had a heavier than I would like field, that we baled 10 bales to the acre of silage off and was under seeded, gonna wrap the first year hay tomorrow and it looks real good. Reply With Quote
    Jul 15, 2020 | 09:06 12 To be honest, I wouldn't really worry about it. I always plant cover crops in order to get something substantial the first year. Oats/barley planted as a cover at 2/3 normal seeding rate under seeded to alfalfa sprayed with Buctril M. Cut for greenfeed. Like mentioned if the swath sits for a bit you will be able to see the swath/rows that year, can't see it the following year. Even if you clip some of the alfalfa off it it still has time to regrow a bit. I don't cut it to the ground though. Never had a wreck especially if lots of moisture.
    The only time I had some establishment trouble. Seeded early with no cover crop - wild oats seemed to take over the field - seem to be way more competitive than barley/oats. Needed to cut that to avoid some competition. Reply With Quote
  • 1 Like


  • Jul 15, 2020 | 23:09 13
    Quote Originally Posted by Mufferaw View Post
    Oats/barley planted as a cover at 2/3 normal seeding rate under seeded to alfalfa sprayed with Buctril M.
    Excuse me, you spray your alfalfa with Buctril M and it doesn't kill it?😳 Reply With Quote
    Jul 16, 2020 | 00:32 14 Since you farm in a very similar climate to me, too wet, and too cold, you probably have found the same thing I have. That most of the rules apply to areas where moisture is the limiting factor, instead of heat units and growing season. From there, many of the recommended methods just don't apply the same. This likely is one of them. Everyone around here plants hay underseeded in a grain crop, some end up as silage or greenfeed, but many are combined as usual, and it always seems to work fine in the end. If your oat crop has more value than the alfalfa seed cost, then not much question of what to do. Reply With Quote
    Jul 16, 2020 | 07:42 15
    Quote Originally Posted by dfarms11 View Post
    Excuse me, you spray your alfalfa with Buctril M and it doesn't kill it?😳
    Name:  Baler oats.jpg
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    Alfalfa under seeded this spring. Doesn't look like much now.

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    Overall field perspective.

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    Different field. Second year of cutting. Frost hurt it in first week of May a bit.
    Same management - 2/3 seeding rate and Buctril M application. Buctril M won't kill it, may set it back a bit under certain conditions.

    Took off around 4,000 lbs last year on first full cut. Last year only had 3.5 inches of rain - nothing significant prior to June 19. 1 inch came in 1/10 and 2/10 increments. We didn't see significant rain until June 9 this year - around 4 inches to date.

    This is Sask. Crop Insurance J and K land. Reply With Quote
    Jul 23, 2020 | 13:01 16 Name:  New Seeding July 23 2020.jpg
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    This is about 3 weeks after cutting the triple mix. It was very dry before and after cutting but rained since and the stuff exploded. Reply With Quote
    Jul 31, 2020 | 09:01 17 Well I’m thinking now because my cut hay keeps getting rained on, that I might end up needing more hay. So I think I’ll it it for green feed.

    Everything I read says make sure alfalfa has been emerged for over sixty days before cutting it. Should I be worried that cutting it will hurt it’s regrow the and recovery? Reply With Quote
    Jul 31, 2020 | 13:57 18
    Quote Originally Posted by Sheepwheat View Post
    Well I’m thinking now because my cut hay keeps getting rained on, that I might end up needing more hay. So I think I’ll it it for green feed.

    Everything I read says make sure alfalfa has been emerged for over sixty days before cutting it. Should I be worried that cutting it will hurt it’s regrow the and recovery?
    As long as it is not cut past middle of August it should put enough into the roots before freeze up to be an established crop next year.cut a bit higher if you are still concerned about winter kill.Probably it would never get winter kill but may start up a bit slower next spring. Reply With Quote
    Jul 31, 2020 | 14:10 19 Sounds like I am thinking this through too much. Using rocket science where it’s not needed. Thanks everyone.

    Thinking of cutting it early next week here. Reply With Quote