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Fall Alfalfa Planting 2024

Fall Alfalfa Planting 2024

Fall alfalfa planting can be successful and offer stand establishment advantages over waiting until next spring.

For example, weed competition in late summer planted alfalfa is usually less than when planted in the spring. Fewer weed seeds sprout in late summer and most annual weed species won’t survive the winter. Additionally, alfalfa stand establishment in late summer and early autumn provides enough root reserves for a strong first crop yield next spring…you can’t get that in the establishment year of spring-planted alfalfa.

Fall planting also allows you to take advantage of good late summer planting weather, instead of taking your chances on wet soils the following spring with potential planting delays and reduced establishment year yields. Plus, better soil conditions in late summer can allow for tillage with less risk of compaction.

Clear seedings of alfalfa without a nurse crop are often most successful in late summer.  Increase your success with late summer and fall alfalfa planting by paying attention to a few management practices.  Make sure you have enough soil moisture for seed to germinate and sustain small plants after seedling emergence.  Plant at least six weeks before a killing frost…eight to ten weeks is even better.  Don’t clip alfalfa during fall establishment; fall clipping makes alfalfa more prone to winterkill.

Alfalfa Partners® brand products recommended for fall dormancies 3-5, for geographies where soils freeze over winter include:

SW3407 – FD3 very winterhardy, very good potential for high-yielding dairy quality hay

SW4107 – FD4 very winterhardy, above average for forage quality with a strong yield record from University trials

Fall Alfalfa Planting

SW4412Y – FD4 lodging resistant variety with improved yield and improved lodging resistance over Pioneer 54Q14.  If you’ve had lodged alfalfa in the past, perhaps due to heavy wind and rain, or manure applications, choose SW4412Y.

SW5213 – FD5 winterhardy variety also with a strong yield record in University trials, get that extra fall yield from this FD5 variety.

SW425 – FD4 winterhardy proprietary blend, excellent choice for fields with variable soils

SW525LH – FD5 winterhardy with high resistance to potato leafhoppers, the smart choice if you can’t spray for leafhoppers or if you don’t want to scout for leafhoppers, available with OMRi-listed coating or raw if used for organic production

NOTE: All of the Alfalfa Partners’ fall dormant alfalfa products carry a HR (highly resistant) rating to Phytophthora and Aphanomyces (multi-race) root rots.