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Alfalfa Harvest Alert in Central MN - May 6, 2010

By Dan Martens, Extension Educator, Stearns-Benton-Morrison Counties
UPDATED MAY 7 - 4:15 p.m.

This report shows Alfalfa Harvest Alert information from field observations and forage tests in Caver/Scott, McLeod/Meeker, Stearns/Benton/Morrison, and Wright Counties. It includes RFV & RFQ numbers on some samples and some notes related to samples.

For more information about doing scissors cut sampling or using PEAQ sticks or charts look in the center of the U of M Extension forages web page at:

Click the link below to look at the data from May 6, 2010. This information will be updated by edits to this entry. Most of these fields will be sampled on Monday and Thursday mornings until they are harvested. Crop height appears to be 1 to 2 weeks ahead of last year.
Alfalfa Harvest Alert Data May 6, 2010.pdf

ALFALFA FROST Concern? See continued reading noted below.

A couple notes about frost concerns:
Alfalfa: From what I have read and in exchanging emails with Paul Peterson, it probably needs to get down to the mid 20's or lower for several hours to damage the primary growth bud at the top of the plant that we are relying on now for further growth on alfalfa. At 4 p.m. Friday, the National Weather Service website listed lows ranging from 29 to 32 for the towns I checked - Foley, Melrose, Pierz, Motley. Hopefully that means we won't do serious damage to alfalfa in this area. There might be some drooping tops, but if not cold enough to kill the buds, they should straighten up pretty quickly. Some leaf edges might show some discoloration.

Small Grains should be fine. Here again some leaf edges might show some discoloration.

Corn is more of a question. Take a look at Jeff Coulter's article a little further down on the Crop News page. The growth point is well below the ground yet so it's less likely that plants would be killed. There could be damage to plant tissue above ground. I haven't seen soybeans up in our area yet. There might be some somewhere. I've seen some situations in previous years where a mild frost does more damage to paper-thin young corn leaves than to thicker cotyledon soybean leaves. Wherever frost damage is in question, it is often helpful to wait for a couple days of warm sunny weather to see whether new growth is initiated.
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