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Alfalfa Harvest Alert for May 21

Taylor Herbert, UMN Extension educator-crops, Wright, McLeod, and Meeker Counties. or (612)-394-5229

The Alfalfa Harvest Alert Project/ Scissor Cut project continued this week. Some alfalfa fields in the southernmost areas of central Minnesota have moved from the vegetative to bud growth stages, resulting in a decrease in forage quality. Some lodging was observed after the most recent rains, but fields still appear to be in great condition. 

Relative Feed Value (RFV) and Relative Feed Quality (RFQ) are used by dairy and other livestock producers to determine harvest timing to fit their needs. The Predictive Equation for Alfalfa Quality (PEAQ) uses the stage of maturity and height of the tallest stems to estimate Relative Feed Value (RFV). Quality is lost in harvest, wilting, and storage of forage, so it is recommended to harvest around 15 to 25 RFV points higher than what is desired for feeding.

As a reminder, the goal of this project is not to try and name the exact day of harvest. Rather the goal is to encourage growers who are busy with management of other crops to be more strategic with hay crop harvest as it relates to their needs.

How to get harvest alert data

The May 21 Alfalfa Harvest Alert data is available as a pdf. However, there's also a tool that contains this year’s data and all of the data from every county and farm that has participated in the Alfalfa Harvest Alert Program since 1977. Go to to view the data. You can also get the most recent information through email by signing up at and clicking the "Hay Auction and Scissor Cut/Alfalfa Harvest Alert Information" box.

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