Farmers begin to assess alfalfa following harsh winter

Farmers in the Upper Midwest are starting to get a better idea of how their alfalfa crop fared this past winter.

University of Minnesota Extension crops educator Dave Nicolai says the impact of record cold and snowfall will likely be felt throughout the upcoming growing season.

“Talking about adequate snow cover in some cases people don’t like it, but in this case it’s certainly alfalfa’s friend to have that when it has been so cold. Typically it then becomes a case of when that water starts to run away and we get ice sheeting.”

He tells Brownfield alfalfa losses can be expected if the crop remains under water for more than five days.

But the full extent of the damage probably won’t be known for a few weeks.

“We’re still a little bit on the early side because of obviously waiting for perennials such as alfalfa and other plants for that crown growth to start.”

Nicolai says by late April growers should be able to assess the overall capability of alfalfa by doing stem counts.

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