Although it seemed like a long winter at times, spring seems to have finally come. Alfalfa fields seem to be coming out of dormancy and so far, winter injury is only a minor concern.

With the Alfalfa Harvest Alert project, alfalfa conditions are monitored throughout Minnesota to help farmers stay on top of their alfalfa fields related to their feed needs, personal experience, and current alfalfa conditions. This project is a cooperation between the Central Minnesota Forage Council and University of Minnesota Extension in conjunction with various agribusinesses, and farmers.

This project kicks off when alfalfa reaches between 14-16 inches tall. Project cooperators will sample fields Monday and Thursday mornings. Generally, when alfalfa gets around 24 inches tall, people can expect to start seeing buds. With alfalfa, the bud stage is usually when forage quality is in the range for better quality dairy hay and harvest takes place. Clipped samples are tested to determine Relative Feed Quality (RFQ), Relative Feed Value (RFV), Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF), and other alfalfa quality factors related to harvest decisions. Quality and maturity will also be estimated through an equation called the “Predictive Equation for Alfalfa Quality” (PEAQ) RFV. This process uses the stage of maturity and height of the tallest stems to estimate RFV and NDF.

Internet users can search for “Minnesota Crop News” for posted information. The results can be directly emailed to you by going to z.umn.edu/tricountysig nup and subscribing to the email list. Finally, you can also call 608-515-4414 to get the latest updated results from the project or if you have any questions.

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