02 Dec Why Choose Alfalfa?
Now that we’ve given thanks for another harvest, December is a key month for planning the next cropping cycle:
- Start by taking inventory of your feed and forage supply and quality
- How much purchased feed and forage will you need? Or will you sell some? And how long will it all last at current utilization rates?
- Determine how much feed you will need to produce during the next growing cycle, considering any adjustments based on current feed inventory utilization rates
- Translate your production requirements to acres required, and determine the production inputs you will need for the next growing cycle
- Consider the opportunity to manage cropping input expenditures across tax years for tax-efficiency
- Consider early ordering the crop inputs you are sure you will need…. to take advantage of early pay or early commitment incentives and provide ample time for your supply chain to respond
Why choose alfalfa?
- Alfalfa provides all the nitrogen needed for a following crop such as sorghum-sudan or corn silage. Alfalfa is a great rotational crop with other forages and grain crops that need added nitrogen.
- Deep taproots of alfalfa help improve internal soil structure which has been shown to have benefits for several years following alfalfa in rotation, for additional yield benefits over and above that which can be attributed to the nitrogen benefit indicated above.
- Alfalfa produces more protein per acre than any other crop you can grow. Let’s compare a hypothetical 5 ton per acre alfalfa hay dry matter yield with 50 bushel per acre soybean yield in terms of protein per acre.
A good crop of alfalfa producing 5 tons of dry matter per acre with 20 percent protein generates 2,000 pounds of protein per acre. By comparison, soybeans yielding 50 bushels per acre weigh in at 935 pounds of protein – less than half alfalfa’s protein output.
With alfalfa hay exceeding twice as much protein per acre in this example, alfalfa is clearly an important crop for home-grown forage, particularly in operations that must supplement their feed regimen with off-farm purchased protein sources.
SW4107– Dormancy 4 alfalfa with high yield potential, good forage quality and agronomic character.
SW5213– High yielding potential combined with outstanding pest and disease resistance in a Dormancy 5 alfalfa.
SW9720 – Non-dormant variety for the southwest, with excellent salt tolerance, dairy quality, and high yield in both saline and non-saline growing conditions.
Additional reading and resources: