It is both a blessing and a curse that alfalfa in California's Central Valley essentially grows all winter long. Although we can get very high early yields, if conditions are too wet, the fields look pretty ragged after a winter which saw rains in excess of 130% of normal.
However, alfalfa is a resilient crop and can likely recover from disease infestations.
Here comes the sun. Warmer, drier weather in the coming weeks is just what we need to dry out water-logged alfalfa fields and get them growing. Rainy, cold weather is a double blow for plants, especially in saturated soils where the crop is growing slowly, so it is more susceptible to diseases favored by moisture. This includes foliar diseases,...
There is little doubt that the heavy late rains we've seen in spring, 2019 in the northern part of California will reduce yields and quality for many alfalfa growers.
How much depends upon soil type and the flooding risk of individual fields and the health of the plants during this stress period.
Roots are often damaged during extensive wet periods, and the remaining roots need mostly time to recover as the weather improves.
When alfalfa is dormant and not growing, it's fairly tolerant of saturated soil conditions. When it begins to break dormancy, and it's cold and wet, plants will start growing, but slowly, making us wonder if there's going to be a reasonable first cutting.
However, when soils begin to...
Have you seen this crop injury in your Roundup-Ready Field or conventionl field? If so, we want to hear from you.
We are asking alfalfa growers everywhere to look for the following symptoms (below) of injury in Roundup-Ready (or RR-HarvXtra) alfalfa or even in conventional fields. It's unusual, but we've observed it under specific conditions, usually after glyphosate applications in the spring.
Figure 1. Stunting of alfalfa after applications of glyphosate (Roundup) under controlled conditions, Northern California.
Have you seen these symptoms in your field? If so, please fill our our survey. Here, we are trying to understand the conditions that may...
- Author: Rachael Freeman Long
- Author: Dan Putnam
In a period when we've had high rains, it's very difficult to manage excessive winter growth in a Mediterranean climate.
We're familiar with the term 'sheeping-off' for describing the use of sheep to graze alfalfa fields during the wintertime to remove thatch, weeds, and help with weevil control (see ‘Sheeping off' alfalfa is a win-win for all!).
But how about 'goating-off'? Doesn't sound quite right, but close winter grazing by goats is likewise an effective pest management practice, just like sheep. When grazing with sheep or goats, timing is important. Watch for excessive soil compaction when rainy and wet and do...
- Author: Daniel H Putnam
- Author: William Matthews
- Author: Tristan Hanon
- Author: Daniel Sumner
Alfalfa and grass hays produced in the US ending up feeding dairy cows in Riyadh or Bengbu? Who would have thought?
What was once a minor curiosity has fully emerged as a major market for western US hay producers.
Hay has been traditionally been fed to animals very close to home and it still is in most of the United States (Figure 1). However, US and world trade in hay products (primarily alfalfa and grass hay and cubes) has increased dramatically over the past decades due to advanced methods of mechanical handling and inexpensive international freight rates. The high quality of western-grown alfalfa and grass hay has been especially demanded by foreign buyers.
Figure 1. ...