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Alfalfa Harvest Alert: May 20th

Nathan Drewitz, Local UMN Extension Educator - Crops, Stearns, Benton, and Morrison Counties

With most of our cooperators reporting stand heights above 18 inches I would expect harvest to begin at
some point next week. While this is good news, there are also reports in the area that some alfalfa stands are under moisture stress. For moisture-stressed fields, consider the height of the alfalfa stand and the cost of harvesting that potential yield.

For established alfalfa stands over 10 inches tall, harvest, provided it is economical. Cutting height should not be raised as there is no advantage to the alfalfa plant by increasing the cutting height during moisture stress. Alfalfa forage quality should be higher in moisture stressed fields meaning harvest can be delayed out until flowering without suffering the usual quality losses. For fields under 10 inches tall, cutting is not recommended. New regrowth will come through the existing stand and can be harvested provided moisture conditions improve.

As of May 20th, we do not have reported instances of insect or disease issues from cooperators. Regardless, stands should continue to be monitored for pest problems.

Alfalfa Harvest Report for May 20th:
Alfalfa Harvest Report May 20th

The goal of this program is to encourage growers to be strategic with alfalfa hay crop harvest. Farmers should make decisions based on their specific feed and market needs and field observations.

You can also compare the different counties, and farms that have participated in the Alfalfa Harvest Alert Program since 2010 at We hope that this new tool will be useful in making better alfalfa management decisions.

You can get the most recent information through email by signing up at and looking for the “Hay Auction and Scissor Cut/Alfalfa Harvest Alert” box.

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