Raise Cutting Height When First Alfalfa Harvest Is Delayed
Rain has delayed the first alfalfa cutting for many folks. If you haven’t taken the first cutting yet, you may want to make some adjustments in how you cut it. Even if it is not blooming heavily, you might be surprised to find it already has started to grow your next cutting.
Walk into your alfalfa field before cutting and look closely at the base or crown of the plants. Do you see short, new shoots starting to grow? If so, these new shoots are the new plants that your alfalfa hopes to turn into your second cutting.
Look closely to see how tall the shoots are. Are many of them a couple inches taller than your usual cutting height? If you cut these new shoots off – along with the first growth – your alfalfa plants will have to start a whole new set of shoots for regrowth. This could cause a delay in second cutting regrowth by as much as one week.
You can avoid this delay by raising your cutting height just a couple inches so that you avoid clipping off most of these new, second growth shoots. Your regrowth then will have a head start toward the next cutting. And, since the stubble you leave behind is of low feed value, the yield you temporarily sacrifice is mostly just filler.
Normally I suggest cutting alfalfa as short as reasonable because that maximizes yield and doesn’t affect rate of regrowth; however, a late cutting that already has new shoots growing is different.