CropWatch April 9, 2010: Adjust Alfalfa Management According to Weather

CropWatch April 9, 2010: Adjust Alfalfa Management According to Weather

April 9, 2010

No two crop seasons are alike and plants adjust accordingly. You need to adjust as well.

Pastures and alfalfa are developing fast this spring and grazing or cutting may need to start earlier than usual. Recognize this year's weather patterns and adjust hay and pasture practices to take advantage of good weather and protect against bad weather.

Annual forages are good examples of this philosophy. Summer annuals like millets and sudangrass can take advantage of summer rain and reduce drought risk. Similarly, winter small grains grow when we are most likely to receive precipitation. Oats and turnips planted in August in dry land won’t grow much if it doesn’t rain. A few timely showers can pay big dividends while risking little when using less expensive seeds. Relying on annuals alone is risky, though, because some years the weather is not good for establishment.

Perennials like alfalfa and many pasture grasses relieve us of this worry. Better still is having both cool-season and warm-season pasture grasses to take advantage of different growing conditions in spring, summer, and fall. Having just brome pasture or just summer native pasture is both risky and limits opportunities during some seasons.

Staying ahead of our weather variation is challenging, but with a little thought and some different forages, you can do it.

Bruce Anderson
Extension Forage Specialist


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