Take Advantage of Spring Soil Moisture for Alfalfa, Pastures

Take Advantage of Spring Soil Moisture for Alfalfa, Pastures April 18, 2019

Much of the state has more moisture in its soil profiles this spring than it's had for a long time. Following are some suggestions for taking full advantage of this good fortune.

Consider Pasture Fertilization. Good moisture is needed to make full use of nitrogen fertilizer. Our university recommendations are based on available moisture for various areas. When soil moisture is high at the start of the growing season, like this year, heavier rates can be expected to produce economically higher grass yields, a benefit as long as you can use the extra grass for grazing or cutting for hay. Apply an extra 20-40 lbs of nitrogen per acre this spring if you can use the extra growth.

Bolster Alfalfa Production. Older dryland fields probably will benefit the most since they usually extract most of the deep profile moisture within three or four years of stand life. Most of our alfalfa fields tend to be low in phosphorus, especially if they haven’t had any fertilizer added for several years. If your soils would benefit from a bit more phosphorus, this is a good spring to apply it since your alfalfa should be able to make immediate use of the increased nutrition to boost hay yields.

Plant and Fertilize Annual Forages.  If you plant summer annual grasses or were considering planting double crop forages after wheat, take advantage of extra moisture if it remains available at planting time.