FOLEY, Minn. —Alfalfa fields seem to be coming out of dormancy and so far, winter injury is only a minor concern. There may be some frost risks later this month, but at this point we are coming into the middle part of April on a good note.

With the Alfalfa Harvest Alert project, University of Minnesota Extension monitors alfalfa conditions throughout the Minnesota to help farmers stay on top of their alfalfa fields related to their feed needs, personal experience, and current alfalfa conditions.

This project kicks off when alfalfa reaches between 14 to 16 inches tall. Project cooperators will sample fields Monday and Thursday mornings. Generally, when alfalfa gets around 24 inches tall, we can expect to start seeing buds. With alfalfa, the bud stage is usually when forage quality is in the range for better quality dairy hay and harvest takes place.

Last year, alfalfa sample collection started on May 4 and ended on June 1. Clipped samples are tested to determine Relative Feed Quality, Relative Feed Value, Neutral Detergent Fiber, and other alfalfa quality factors related to harvest decisions. Quality and maturity will also be estimated through an equation called the “Predictive Equation for Alfalfa Quality.” This process uses the stage of maturity and height of the tallest stems to estimate RFV and NDF.

There is also a new tool for this year which puts the past 10 years of scissor cut information at your disposal. This tool will allow you to select and sort data by year, county, and grower to look back and compare RFV, RFQ, and PEAQ RFV. As the 2021 season progresses this will be the home for all collected information and will remain active throughout the entire year. Go to z.umn.edu/AlfalfaHarvestAlert and check it out.

Internet users can search for “Minnesota Crop News” for posted information. The results can be directly emailed to you by going to z.umn.edu/tricountysignup and subscribing to the email list.

This article was submitted by Nathan Drewitz, University of Minnesota Extension.

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