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Alfalfa Harvest Approaching

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
May 25, 2017         
Source:  Dan Martens, Extension Educator
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties


Alfalfa Harvest Approaching
By Dan Martens, University of Minnesota Extension

FOLEY, Minn. (5/17/2017) — The Central Minnesota Forage Council and U of M Extension work together with cooperating farmers and agribusinesses to share information about alfalfa fields as we approach first crop alfalfa harvest. Farmers consider their own feed needs; harvest, storage and feeding practices; field and weather conditions; and past experience in making hay harvest decisions.

Field data now, shows that some hay harvest will get under way when the weather and field conditions permit. As expected, the alfalfa crop is a little farther along in the southern part of the area.

Cooperating farms in Sibley, Carver, McLeod , and Meeker County show tallest stems averaging  26 to 30 inches tall, in the bud stage, with PEAQ estimated Relative Feed Value from 157 to 170, Lab Test RFV from 170 to 212, and protein in the low 20’s. PEAQ is an estimation of what a fresh cut sample might test at a forage lab. Cooler weather can contribute to feed testing testing than expected for the height and maturity. Weeds and old crop residue can be expected to reduce feed quality.

In Stearns County at the Gathje Farm, near Eden Valley, 26 inches, about half bud stage, PEAQ RFV 176, Lab Test RFV 175, RFQ 249, Protein 26.9.  At the Maus Farm 22.5 inches, vegetative stage, PEAQ RFV 198, Lab Test 195, RFQ 247, Protein 26.7. At the Frericks farm north of Melrose, 22 inches, vegetative, PEAQ RFV 200, Lab Test 221, RFQ 280, protein 24.7.   

In Benton County, at the Scapanski Farm, northeast of Sauk Rapids, 21.8 inches, vegetative, PEAQ RFV 201, Lab Test 197, RFQ 251, protein at 20.6. At OS Dairy, east of Rice, 22 inches, vegetative, PEAQ RFV 200, Lab Test 219, RFQ 251, protein 22.7

In Morrison County at the Dan an Sarah Roerick farm, southwest of Upsala, 24 inches, vegetative/bud stage, PEAQ RFV 185, Lab Test 184, RFQ 221, protein 23.4

Because of harvest and storage loss, the general goal is to start harvest (if the weather allows) when the PEAQ RFV and/or the Lab Test RFV is about 15 to 20 points higher than what the farmer wants for feed quality in the feed bunk.

All of the data from this sampling can be found by doing a website search for “Minnesota Extension Crop News”, and look for the May 22 Alfalfa Article, or look under the “Hay Information Tab. 

Ag Buiness Sponsors and Cooperators include Contributors include Paynesville Coop, Helena Chemical at Royalton, Gilman Coop, Nelson Dairy Consulting, Total Agri-Business Services, Vita Plus, Ag Venture/FormAFeeds at Watkins, United Farmers Cooperative, Stearns DHIA Lab, and Dairyland Lab.

Please make safety a priority in the fields, around the yard and shop, and on the road – especially with the weather not being very cooperative lately.


Daniel Martens
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems
(320) 968-5077
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