Next Options After Rain Delays Alfalfa Planting - UNL CropWatch, April 26, 2012

Next Options After Rain Delays Alfalfa Planting - UNL CropWatch, April 26, 2012

April 26, 2013

A wet spring may have prevented you from planting alfalfa yet and now it's time to jump into corn planting. 

Normally in Nebraska we recommend that alfalfa be planted by mid-May on dryland sites or late May under irrigation. Planting later greatly increases the risk of hot, dry, windy weather killing new seedlings before they have enough root system to support the moisture needs of plants.

This spring planting by these deadlines may be difficult. If you're faced with a short planting window, consider these options. 

No-till seeding. Crop residues of corn, milo, beans, and small grains are not a problem for most drills, but ridges along the rows can make the field too rough for comfortable hay-making.

Postemergence Weed Control. Weeds can be controlled post-emerge using herbicides like Poast Plus or Select for grasses and Buctril, Pursuit, Raptor, or Butyrac for broadleaves. Roundup, of course, can be used with tolerant varieties. Mowing also helps. If weeds are already present at planting, a burndown spray of Roundup or Gramoxone may be needed.

If planting is delayed further, consider waiting until August to seed alfalfa rather than seeding just before hot weather.

Summer annual grasses like sorghum-sudan hybrids and foxtail millet are good choices but little seed remains available. Bin-run corn might be possible if planted real thick in narrow rows. Berseem clover, any of the summer annual grasses, or even soybeans for hay could be used if you decide to wait a full year before trying to plant again next spring. Choose quickly, though, so you don't miss chances to plant.

Bruce Anderson
Extension Forage Specialist