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Don’t ignore alfalfa value when making fieldwork decisions

A forage expert urges farmers to do the math if wet weather puts corn and soybean planting too close to alfalfa harvest time.
Dr. Dan Undersander with the University of Wisconsin-Madison says most dairy farmers should focus on their alfalfa first.  “The quality of alfalfa declines 4/10’s of a point in digestibility per day, and it increases 4/10’s of a point in fiber per day.  That’s about five points of relative feed value or relative forage quality, which is worth about $7.00 a ton in the marketplace.”

He tells Brownfield comparing the cost of planting row crops versus getting first crop alfalfa on time makes it an easy decision.  “Delaying corn planting a couple of days is only going to reduce yield a bushel or so an acre.  That’s $3.00 dollars.  Delaying the alfalfa harvest is going to cause us to lose $7.00 dollars per ton, which can be $14.00 or more per acre compared to the $3.00 for corn or soybeans.”

Undersander is optimistic farmers will finish planting crops before alfalfa is ready, but wet soil now might create too much field work to complete in a very short period of time.

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