Thickening Alfalfa with Cereals to Boost First Cutting Yields
Are some of your alfalfa stands a little thinner than you would like or does it look like you'll be haying fewer acres of alfalfa this year.
Maximizing tonnage from every inch of rain your alfalfa hay fields receive this year may be necessary to get the yield you need. Unfortunately, alfalfa uses quite a bit of water for each ton of hay, especially as temperatures rise so it is critical to get as much tonnage as possible out of the first cutting before summer heat sets in.
One way to boost first cutting hay yield from older, thinner alfalfa stands is to drill cereals like oats, spring triticale, or spring barley into those alfalfa stands as soon as possible. Try to get the seed about one inch deep. These cereals will use spring moisture very efficiently to add tonnage to your first cutting.
Drill 30 to 60 pounds per acre directly into your existing alfalfa stand. The cereals should quickly fill in those thin spots. Cut the hay a little later than usual to get the most yield benefit from this addition.
Getting the most yield out of each inch of moisture could be especially important this year. Using cereals in alfalfa is one way to do it.