Alfalfa Production

By: Kelsey Schaben

Alfalfa Anatomy

  • Legume
  • Starts to germinate pretty much right after it is planted
  • Temperature of soil should be around 65*F - Shouldn't be under 35*F or over 104*F
  • Seed starts to germinate when the seed absorbs moisture
  • Some alfalfa seeds are missing a coat - Hard seed
  • Hard seed can take months to years before it germinates
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Vegetative Stages

  • Stage 1 - Early vegetative, stem is under 6 inches
  • Stage 2 - Mid-vegetative, stem is 6-12 inches
  • Stage 3 - Late vegetative, stem is over 12 inches (no buds)
  • Stage 4 - Early buds, 1-2 visible buds
  • Stage 5 - Late buds, over 3 visible buds
  • Stage 6 - Early flower, 1 open flower
  • Stage 7 - Late flower, 2 open flowers
  • Stage 8 - Early seed pods, 1-3 seed pods
  • Stage 9 - Late seed pods, over 4 seed pods
  • Stage 10 - Ripe seed pods, brown and mature seed pods

Planting Alfalfa

  • Perennial
  • Plant in a sunny area
  • Well-drained with a pH level between 6.8 and 7.5
  • In cooler climates alfalfa should be planted in spring
  • Mild climates should plant in fall
  • Plant seeds by sprinkling evenly a half inch deep
  • Plant rows 18-24 inches apart
  • Begin to sprout after 7 to 10 days
  • When the purple blooms start to show, it's time to mow and till into soil

Top Crop States

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Nevada
  • Oregon

Harvesting Alfalfa

  • Usually harvested twice a year
  • Don't harvest during wet or rainy weather
  • Using for livestock feed - should be harvested at early-bloom stage (before flowers)
  • Harvest between 60 and 70 days after emergence
  • Should be harvested before September 1st, latest mid-October

Pests

  • Alfalfa Weevil - lay eggs causing holes in leaves
Prevention - Timing cutting, Ladybugs

Treatments - Insecticides when necessary

  • Stem nematode - cause plant to rot
Prevention - Timing cutting, sanitizing equipment

Treatments - animals

Uses of alfalfa

  • Animal feed
  • Vitamins
  • Fossil fuels
  • Alfalfa sprouts (salad)
  • Protein
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Interesting Facts

  • ALFALFA CAN LAST 25 YEARS IN THE FIELD
  • ALFALFA IS THE OLDEST KNOWN PLANT TO BY USED AS LIVESTOCK FEED
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Sources

"Northeast Region Certified Crop Adviser (NRCCA) Study Resources."Certified Crop Advisor Study Resources (Northeast Region). N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.


"Growing Alfalfa – How To Plant Alfalfa." Gardening Know How. N.p., 12 Aug. 2010. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.


"Forages: Topics." Forages: Topics. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.


"Alfalfa Weevil." Alfalfa Weevil. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.


http://alfalfa.ucdavis.edu/IrrigatedAlfalfa/pdfs/UCAlfalfa8289GrowthDev_free.pdf


http://beef2live.com/story-alfalfa-fun-facts-0-110113