What kind of alfalfa do you need?
If alfalfa is grown on your farm, you know how important it is to choose an alfalfa that has the characteristics you need. It needs to fit your management, soil type and end user. There are many goals that you may have for your alfalfa, but here are a few common needs:
Need Fast Recovery?
In a system where you plan to cut alfalfa four to five times in a season, it is important to have an alfalfa that will recover quickly. This alfalfa also needs to be able to handle the stress that each cutting brings. PCS Pillar alfalfa is our fastest recovering alfalfa with high yield and produces dairy quality forage. It is highly resistant to all major alfalfa diseases and has a strong stand density at establishment. Pillar was developed in the Upper Midwest to achieve goals that match the region’s climate. Both the livestock producer and the commercial hay grower benefit from the fast growth and high forage quality.
Looking for Pest and Disease Resistance?
The risk of pest and disease in crops is unavoidable on most operations, but can affect some more than others. If your operation tends to have issues with alfalfa pests, it is important to plan for that when choosing your alfalfa. PCS Leading Edge is highly resistant to all major alfalfa diseases including Aphanomyces Race 2. Leading Edge still brings quality and fast recover to the table and will work well in a three to four cut system. Improved quality and palatability for livestock is an added benefit with the high resistance to diseases and pests. Healthy forages have less tissue damage and less anti-quality characteristics.
Have Heavy Soils?
Most alfalfas have a taproot that can be susceptible to freeze-thaw cycles and heavier soils that hold more water. On ground that is heavy, such as clay soil types, taproots do not always perform well in an unfavorable year. If this is common for any of your fields, a brand rooted alfalfa is a better choice. Branched roots are more stable when the ground expands and contracts in the cooler months. Prairie Creek Seed offers Prairie Thunder BR as a brand root alfalfa. Prairie Thunder’s root system is indeterminate so it will adjust to moisture levels and move deeper into the soil as needed. In heavy soils, Prairie Thunder will yield higher than the other taproot varieties and provide dairy quality forage.
Using Alfalfa in your Rotation Short-Term?
If you are planning on using alfalfa for just 1-2 years in a rotation, a more economical option may be best. An alfalfa that has good yield potential and solid disease resistance can still exist at a price that makes sense for a stand that is going to be taken out relatively soon. PCS Value fits that bill. Value is winter hardy and will perform across varying soil types. This alfalfa will work best in a three to four cut system and can also be used as a short-term alfalfa in a pasture seeding.
Need Traffic Tolerance?
Another option for alfalfas that are going into a pasture seeding is one that can handle hoof traffic. Alfalfa crowns often have placement right at or above the soil surface. A sunken crown variety like Veil SC reduces the risk of the valuable crowns being damaged from traffic as well as severe weather. A crown set lower on an alfalfa plant is better insulated if there is a winter with very little snow cover when other crowns would be more exposed. Veil SC is a high-quality alfalfa that will also suit hay production.
There are many variables that contribute to an alfalfa’s performance, but set yourself up for success by choosing the characteristics that will work for your situation and operation!