News > Taking your Alfalfa crop to the next level

Taking your Alfalfa crop to the next level

Apr 18, 2019

One of the most critical decisions you'll make with your alfalfa crop is your seed investment. Advancements in alfalfa breeding and technology have resulted in large improvements in yield potential, quality, flexibility, and availability of trait packages. Selecting the right genetics for your farm and management style is critical to achieving success with your alfalfa crop.

How do I select the right alfalfa for my operation?

Technology in alfalfa breeding has brought multiple trait offerings into the market. Cooperative Producers Inc. (CPI) partners with the leading seed companies in the industry to offer you the best selection of these trait offerings. We source the latest hybrids and traits to bring you the best genetic potential, with the best weed and pest resistance.
When it comes to alfalfa, we offer three distinct trait offerings to meet your specific needs:
  1. HarvXtra® Alfalfa
  2. Roundup Ready® Alfalfa
  3. Conventional alfalfa 
HarvXtra® is the most advanced alfalfa today, offering farmers more flexibility in cutting schedules to achieve greater yield potential or improved forage quality. It does this by modifying lignin content beyond what is possible with conventional breeding. HarvXtra® alfalfa gives farmers options, not limits.
Roundup Ready® Alfalfa enables better weed control to reduce the risk of stand loss due to weed pressure. Conventional varieties are also offered that have been developed from conventional breeding techniques, which generally show an incremental improvement in forage quality when compared to non-selected varieties.
To learn more about these trait offerings, and which is best suited for your operation, contact your nearest CPI Sales Agronomist. The next step in improving your alfalfa crop is fertility.
Fertility is crucial to achieve next-level production
Make sure fertility is addressed so that we can increase plant health, increase yields, and extend stand life. Managing alfalfa fertility is often overlooked and is vital to maximizing your investment.
The chart below shows nutrient removal per ton of alfafa dry matter produced:

Phosphorus (P2O5), Potassium (K2O), Sulfur (S), and Boron (B) are major nutrients that need your attention for alfalfa production.


Can we raise alfalfa without a fertility program? Sure. But the question we need to ask ourselves is, what are we giving up? What might be affected in our business by not adequately fertilizing? Consider the impact of proper fertility on alfalfa yield, cattle gain, and removal of nutrients from the soil reservoir for future crops. Alfalfa is a multi-year investment, and we want to get the most out of that investment.
Put together a good fertility plan for your alfalfa crop. Best practice is to make sure that our soil nutrient levels and pH are adequate before seeding. Once this is accomplished, we need to keep up with the crop nutrient removal. We recommend fertilizing alfalfa at least 2 times per year. Once after first cutting, and one more time after third or fourth cutting to put the alfalfa to bed for the winter.

Nutrient availability by pH in alfalfa.  
  • pH is ideal for alfalfa at 6.8 – 7.2
  • pH is more forgiving at higher levels
  • Consider nutrient availability at differing pH levels and address appropriately

It is critical to manage alfalfa throughout the growing season. Scouting and tissue sampling can provide you with key insights into crop nutrition and insect or disease pressure. If tissue sample results indicate a nutrient deficiency, nutrient amendments can be made in-season with a foliar application.
Managing alfalfa for adequate fertility and in-season can add to your bottom-line. See the chart below for an example of an “Optimize Acre” trial conducted on alfalfa. 

At CPI, we not only offer solutions for your corn and soybean fields. We also offer solutions for your alfalfa, forage, and cover crop needs. These offerings come with years of expertise and exceptional service to make sure you will be successful in growing whatever crop it is that you are looking for.
Contact your nearest CPI Sales Agronomist to learn more about our seed offerings and services, and what CPI Seed can deliver for you this year.  

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