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Alfalfa Harvest Alert Info in Central MN - May 13, 2010

By Dan Martens, Extension Educator, Stearns-Benton-Morrison Counties

UPDATED Monday Evening May 17

ALL test and field information for May 13 IS POSTED NOW in the document here:
Alfalfa Harvest Alert Data May 13, 2010.pdf

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:

Notes From Thursday.

My apologies for any inconvenience in my being out of town over the weekend and piecing things together a bit. Information from Thursday May 13 is completed now.

BUDS are reported by Nathan Winter in two more fields this morning - Mohr's SW of Glencoe in McLeod County and Kurth's south of Cedar Mills in Meeker County. Buds in alfalfa at 20 inches is a little earlier than normal related to growth. We'll see what the crop does with some sunshine and warmer weather between now and Monday and into next week. Sometimes we think if we get a lot of new leaves we'll hold quality pretty well. Sometimes with ample moisture and warmer weather, we get a lot of stem elongation also and NDF's continue to rise while RFV continues to slide.

It will be time on some of these taller fields for some growers to think about feed quality that will work well with their ration strategies and consider when the weather provides a window for harvest. Some field have time and room to do some growing yet.

The report posted for May 13 includes information in the note section from two fields where OLD CROP RESIDUE was removed from the sample and where old crop residue was left in the sample. This is not meant to imply that it's always like this or that what was found here is necessarily representative of the whole field. We usually take old crop residue and weeds of our Harvest Alert sample to get a look at what the alfalfa is actually doing.

And I'd like to point out again that Jim Linn has a useful article in the April 24 Dairy Star about watching NDF in Scissors Cut samples as another indicator for harvest decisions. He suggests harvesting when fresh cut lab test or PEAQ readings in the range of 35-36 NDF should result in feed in the bunk below 40 NDF and in a 160 RFV range. He suggest haylage dry matter at 40-45 (moisture 55-65). There might be 3-6 points of NDF gained because of harvest and storage losses.

Please plan for and encourage others to have a safe hay harvest and to take care in other spring work and activities.

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