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Alfalfa Scissor Cuts May 28-29, 2018

by Randy Pepin, UMN Extension Educator, Stearns, Benton, and Morrison Counties or (320) 333-1369

Harvesting high quality alfalfa hay is a prime concern of most dairy farmers.  The ideal time to cut first crop alfalfa has many variables such as: spring weather, severity of the winter, the weather last fall, how the field was managed last fall, age of the alfalfa stand, alfalfa variety, fertility level, and each farmers criteria on desired hay quality.  Collecting a series of scissor cuts samples of an alfalfa stand beginning early in the growth stage will monitor the progress of the alfalfa maturity.  We harvest scissor cuts on a number of fields throughout central Minnesota to help dairy producers observe the maturing progress across several fields.

Scissor Cuts Samples through May 24-25, 2018

Data from Scissor Cuts May 28-29  Chart Showing scissor cuts taken on dates indicated, various tips and observations, and sponsors of this program.

Farm Charts and Graphs  Charts at the top and Graphs on the bottom of each farms scissor cut progress

Map of Farm Locations  A map of approximate locations of farm sites


Most of the southern sites in this program harvested over the Memorial weekend.  This year has to have been one of the fastest alfalfa maturing rates for May.  Past years have indicated that one inch of alfalfa growth per day in May is good growth.  This year nearly all sites attained that and a couple sites grew at one and one-half inches per day.  Much higher than normal temperatures had a major impact.

Other Hay Information

This information is not intended to tell anyone when to harvest alfalfa, it only is a guide to monitor several alfalfa fields in the maturing progress.  You need to look at your own alfalfa fields to determine when the time is right for you to harvest.

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