Fall Comes Early for Alfalfa Seeding

alfalfa field resized

“Fall seeding of alfalfa and grasses can be a good option,” said Craig Loen, Federated agronomist at the Osceola location, because there is less weed and insect pressure in August.

In spite of the possibility of late summer/early fall being dry, Federated Agronomists recommend seeding, especially alfalfa, in early- to mid-August to give the plants time to establish roots and crowns and build up nutrient reserves in the roots to better survive the winter and produce a viable stand for the long haul (three to five years).

“A current soil test is necessary to determine pH and nutrient availability in your soil profile,” said Loen. “As always,” he added, “fertility is key to establishment of an optimal stand of alfalfa and/or grasses.” (See article below.)

For alfalfa seeding, soil preparation is critical. Alfalfa seed is small and needs to be placed approx. ¼-inch from the top of the soil to get proper soil-to-seed contact. The seed bed should be a firm as possible. “A Brillion-style packer is preferable. You should be able to bounce a basketball on your field,” said Loen.

“Alfalfa / grass hay can be a high value crop,” said Loen, noting that the best way to maximize ROI in a cash crop market or livestock operation is to make sure all the inputs are correct. “Remember that you are seeding a crop that has a three- to five-year life expectancy, so you need to do it correctly. In these tighter economic times, we need to try to maximize our longevity of these crops.”

Federated Co-ops has a great selection of alfalfa varieties and grass seed options, in addition to pre-mixed grasses that may or may not include alfalfa. Your Federated Agronomist will help you choose the best option for your farm.