Alfalfa is the forage base of many farms across the Midwest. It is a legume that can fix most of its own nitrogen, it is deep rooted to give drought tolerance, and it grows pretty well during the hotter part of the summer. Due to the pressures of the rotation schedule on many farms today, typically, alfalfa stands are only in production for three or four years. It is important to get all the yield possible in this short time and it is these high performing varieties that Byron Seeds focuses on.
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).
Alfalfa can be planted in the spring or late summer, but we recommend late summer whenever possible. 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, 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.
Finally, Byron has a Hybrid Alfalfa for those in the southern half of the Byron Seeds territory. This alfalfa is for aggressive cutters who want to start cutting a little earlier in the spring and also have one more cutting in the fall. This alfalfa is for the 25 to 28 day cutter and, of course, it retains the same qualities of KF402H, that is, the finer stems, the dense stands, and the exceptional quality. KF601H is a Fall Dormancy 6 and a Winter-Hardiness 2.Zones: 4,5,6