UNL CropWatch March 18, 2011 Reducing the Cost of RR Alfalfa Stand Establishment

UNL CropWatch March 18, 2011 Reducing the Cost of RR Alfalfa Stand Establishment

March 18, 2011

Roundup Ready® seed can be a major input cost in establishing a new alfalfa field, but there are ways to reduce establishment costs.

Fortunately, the seed itself can provide much of that help.

Research has shown that most growers can reduce seeding rates by 15-20% when planting Roundup Ready alfalfa compared to previous varieties. That means if you normally plant 15 lb/ac of seed, with Roundup Ready alfalfa you probably can do as well with just 12 lb/ac. That can lower your seed cost by more than $20 per acre.

However, there is a catch. To get good stands when using lower seeding rates of Roundup Ready alfalfa, you need to do a good job of  following establishment recommendations.

  • Prepare a proper, firm seedbed.
  • Apply fertilizer and lime as needed according to soil test recommendations.
  • Use a correctly adjusted drill or seeder that will place the right amount of seed at the right depth.
  • Plant on time.
  • Spray Roundup before weeds and alfalfa seedlings are more than 3 inches tall.

Roundup Ready alfalfa seed may be more expensive than other options, but you can control costs by using less seed and better establishment practices.

Bruce Anderson
Extension Forage Specialist