Organic Alfalfa

Forage Use: Grazing Dairy, Beef, Sheep, Haylage, and Dry Hay

Alfalfa is the forage base for many farms today. It is a legume that can fix most of its own nitrogen. We carry two alfalfa varieties, a tap root or deep rooted plant that has good drought tolerance and it grows pretty well during the hotter part of the summer. The second variety is a branchroot alfalfa for wetter and heavier clay soils. Due to the pressures of the rotation schedule on many farms, alfalfa stands are only in production for three or four years before decreases in productivity are noticed. It is important to get all the yield possible in this short time and these high performing varieties are what we focus on.

Establishment

Alfalfa can be planted in the spring or late summer, but we recommend late summer whenever possible. Planting depth should be 0.25 to 0.50 inches with good soil contact. If spring sown, a nurse crop of grass or small grain is recommended to maximize the tonnage in the seeding year. We usually recommend seeding grass with alfalfa to give a higher tonnage and better quality feed for the life of the stand. Alfalfa exhibits autotoxicity, which means established plants (older than 6 months) give off compounds that prevent new alfalfa seedlings from establishing.

Management

Once established, alfalfa stand can last for many years. Many modern varieties can handle 28 day cutting schedules and in fact, some elite varieties need that type of management to perform their best. One very critical aspect of alfalfa management is knowing when to take the last cutting in the fall. By using Growing Degree Days (GDD) you can determine the best time to take the last fall cutting. An early fall cut can be taken as long as the plants can accumulate more than 500 GDD to replenish root reserves. A late fall cutting can be taken as long as no more than 200 GDD will accumulate before killing frost (25°F).

Certified Organic

Organic seeds are grown by certified organic growers that adhere to the strict organic practices required by the Organic Food Production Act of 1990. No chemical fertilizer, pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, or herbicides are allowed in the production of this seed. Genetic purity is maintained throughout the production, processing, and packaging of this seed. Organic certificate available upon request.

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