Alfalfa seeds can be planted from mid-March through mid-May in most regions of the United States. If possible, begin planting early to give your crops time before winter sets in and temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Your goal should always be to get as much out of each acre as possible by growing alfalfa in cooler climates where it will survive longer than warmer ones.
The amount of alfalfa seed you will need per acre depends on a number of factors. If you are planting in ideal conditions, like a field that has recently been plowed, then you can use about 5-7 pounds for every acre you want to plant. If the soil has not been tilled, or if it is dry and sandy, then you may need to use more seed—about 12-15 pounds per acre.
To know how much alfalfa seed to plant per acre, read this article. It covers the cost of seed, methods for planting, and conditions for establishing a stand. Moreover, this article also covers the phosphorus application process. If you are thinking of growing alfalfa, read on to learn more. This article will help you decide whether you should sow your field by hand or use sowing machines.
Cost of seed
Although the cost of alfalfa seed per acre is relatively expensive compared to other crops, the yield of the crop is high, and the investment pays off. Alfalfa is highly nutrient-rich and can be profitable, even at higher seed prices. Its cost depends on the soil and climate, but high-quality seed can yield a better stand. Although alfalfa seed can be costly, most farmers would not plant corn with a cheap seeder.
For most situations in Wisconsin, growers need 12 pounds of pure live seed per acre. This works out to about 60 seeds per square foot. As the cost of alfalfa seed rises, growers may consider interseeding other species or planting new fields. However, alfalfa is expensive, and hay prices have skyrocketed. Meanwhile, land devoted to alfalfa has declined by over 4 million acres since 1995, despite the fact that its supply has risen by 50 percent over the last 20 years.
The cost of alfalfa seed per acre depends on several factors, including the variety and size of the field. The cost of premium seed can increase significantly, but the increased yields more than make up for the higher cost. The benefits of alfalfa outweigh this, so it is well worth the price. You should consider the costs associated with maintaining a good stand of alfalfa, including seed and hauling.
The cost of seed per acre is determined by soil type, climate, and tillage. Soil preparation and planting can be extremely expensive, but you will have a greater yield if you use a low-cost seeding rate. If you’re planning to plant alfalfa in an arid region, consider a seeding rate of eight to ten pounds per acre. While these rates are high for most areas, it’s essential to use the right seed rate to minimize risk and maximize the yield.
Another consideration in choosing a field for alfalfa is the topography. A sloped field is susceptible to erosion and must be well-drained. A sloped field is ideal if the slope is less than two percent, but a low-sloped field is susceptible to water logging. This can cause uneven alfalfa establishment. In addition to soil quality, alfalfa seed needs a constant supply of water.
Methods of planting
The first step in planting Alfalfa is to prepare the seedbed. If your climate is cool and dry, plant seeds in full sun. Alfalfa is easily transplanted into the garden. Sowing the seed directly into the soil will produce the desired crop yield in as little as three weeks. To ensure that the seedlings grow quickly and healthy, water them regularly. Once the seedlings are about five inches tall, they will be less susceptible to weed competition. However, weed control is still important, especially during the early stages of growth, when plants can be easily uprooted. Weeds also produce seeds and can cause erosion, so it is imperative to keep them under control. Herbicides are not recommended for use in soil, so don’t use them on foliage that is intended for livestock.
For best results, alfalfa should be planted in soil that has a pH of 6.8. Soil pH below this level should be limed before planting, and higher pH soils can be planted without too much difficulty. The nutrient requirements for alfalfa will be slightly different from those of other crops, so the type of soil will be important. To plant alfalfa seed, you should place them about 1/4-1/2 inch deep in medium soils. If you are planting seed on sandy soils, you should plant it deeper.
A monosem planter is the best tool for planting Alfalfa seed in fields with 15-inch spacing. During planting, it is advisable to repeat the process until you have established a stand. However, if the weed population is high, the Monosem Planter is not a viable option. In that case, you should plant Alfalfa seeds in May or June. Weed control can be done by herbicides, light disking, and straw removal.
In colder climates, seeding alfalfa seed in late summer or early fall is possible. The plant is dormant during the winter months, so you don’t need to water the alfalfa seed in the cold months. You should thin the seedlings to six inches apart by the time they reach 6 inches. You can also plant Alfalfa in the spring.
Conditions for establishing a stand
The best alfalfa stands occur on deeply worked, well-drained soils. Alfalfa needs deep, rich soils with adequate infiltration, organic matter, and clay content. Alfalfa needs large amounts of water to grow and thrive. If its soil has poor drainage, it will not be productive and yield will be low. In addition, waterlogged soils tend to harbor weeds and promote the spread of disease and pests.
Soil testing is recommended every two to three years to check soil pH, phosphorus, and potassium levels. Add lime to keep the pH level above 6.0. The stages at which alfalfa plants reach maturity also affect the yield and life of the stand. The first harvest should be made when plants are mid to full-bloom. The following harvests should be made as flowers are visible.
A better way to assess the yield potential of an established alfalfa stand is to count stems. This can be done once the stems begin to grow. Older stands typically have fewer plants per square foot, and seedlings are more susceptible to pests. A good rule of thumb is to take a sample of each plant at four or five random locations throughout the field and divide it by two. This yield potential can be estimated.
When seeding alfalfa, timing is very important. The best time of year depends on local climate and possible crop rotation schedules. In the northern United States, the optimal time is late spring or early summer. Planting during dry summer may not allow the alfalfa to develop enough roots to survive winter. However, the plant should have at least five leaves before the first hard freeze.
If you have an alfalfa-rich soil, it may be possible to plant companion plants like bermudagrass. The two species are similar in terms of site selection and growth habits, but they share the same nutrient needs and can complement each other. They can also be planted three or four feet apart. A thin stand of summer weeds can help the alfalfa establish.
A successful phosphorus application for Alfalfa seed production depends on the timing of the P application. Although the first cutting of the crop will receive the most P from early spring organic sources, supplemental P fertilization is necessary for second cutting growth. Phosphorus fertilization can be applied in two ways: granular or liquid. Liquid fertilizer can be broadcast on the field, while unincorporated lime will only change the pH level at the soil surface and offer little benefit to newly seeded alfalfa.
Soil phosphorus concentration is a direct correlation between total phosphorus availability and alfalfa seed yield. Soil total phosphorus concentration determines the amount of available phosphorus available for planting. Maintaining the soil total phosphorus concentration allows for a consistent supply of phosphorus for alfalfa. Phosphorus fertilization may therefore be used as part of a more efficient crop management strategy.
One study reported that top-dressed applications of P did not significantly improve alfalfa quality. However, high-rate treatments avoided excess P from affecting seed yield. Also, high-rate treatments brought soil P near the optimum level in later two years. On the other hand, low-rate treatments did not provide adequate amounts of P for alfalfa. However, triennial application of P was verified by experiments in 2008 and 2013.
The frequency of phosphorus application for Alfalfa seed is important. In arid regions, surface-applied P is applied more frequently than annual. The initial growth of alfalfa seed is severely affected by excess P application. The P-content of the soil after triennial fertilization is approximately five centimeters thick. P fertilizer applied in a triennial fashion can decrease seed yield and have a negative linear effect.
A study of water and phosphorus application rates in the same field found that different levels of phosphorus application affected hay yield and accumulated phosphorus concentration. Although each treatment performed differently in the trials, it did provide useful guidance in developing an efficient irrigation system. These findings are helpful in selecting an optimal irrigation strategy for Alfalfa seed. This study also confirms previous findings that phosphorus and water management rates are related.