August 15, 2019

Agronomy Update: Alfalfa Seeding, Drought Impact and Looking Ahead

BY Dairyland Seed
Alfalfa Seeding, Fertilization and Maintaining a Good Stand

As small grains are coming off, some prevent plant acres are finally getting seeded and that last crop of alfalfa hay has been baled or is going to be cut and baled, we need to look at doing a few things:

In looking at the latter, we experienced a high rate of alfalfa winterkill this last spring. The cold temperatures, as well as ice bridging and disease, were major factors in the severity of damaged stands. Another factor often overlooked is the fertility of those affected stands which, in many instances, were low to very low.

One ton of alfalfa has a crop removal of: 51-12-49-.015 Boron and 5.4 Sulfur. Since alfalfa fixes its own nitrogen, we will not be needing to add 51 Units of N. As to the 12 units of Phosphorus and 49 units of Potassium per ton removed, we definitely need those. Split applying some this fall and after first crop next spring would be advisable. By split applying P an K now and next spring, you are allowing the plant to take in nutrients this fall to help it overwinter, and then giving the plant a boost next spring to produce more tons. It would be my recommendation to put the Boron and Sulfur on next spring due to their mobile nature in the soil.

If you are harvesting five tons of alfalfa you are removing:

If you do not replace what you took out, odds are you are reducing the life of your stand.

If you are needing more alfalfa next year and have acres available to seed with adequate moisture to do so, now is a great time to get a start on next year’s production. Products that I am more apt to recommend, especially on wetter soils, would be branched rooted products like HybriForce-3420/Wet and HybriForce-2420/Wet. If you are dealing with saline soil like those found in North Dakota, I would recommend Magnum Salt for those instances.

Initial recommendations for seeding rates are 18-25lbs/acre and seeding prior to September 1. As you move further north, I would recommend seeding prior to August 22.

If you have further questions regarding product selection, seeding rates or dates, please contact your Dairyland Seed Agronomist or District Sales Manager.


Drought Impact on Corn

Our crops are needing a good drink of water across certain sections of the Dairyland Seed marketing area.  Yet other areas are receiving those ever-so-important August rains. Those not so fortunate are asking questions about the impacts on yield.  In true agronomist fashion the answer is “it depends”.

Many factors determine yield and especially so when lack of moisture is involved.  Those factors include timing, duration, heat, growth stage, soil type, soil condition and hybrid.

All these factors combine to determine the effects of limited water supply. Compounding the issue, nitrogen becomes limited in situations with little water movement through the plant.  Nitrogen moves via mass flow with soil water through the plant.

Early water stress can have little to no impact. Some may say it’s good to be short early in the season. As the corn plant develops, however, this is not the case. We can lose kernel rows per ear first, and then kernels per row later as the maturing plant responds to stress. If drought continues, not only can we lose kernel count, but we also lose kernel weight and depth.  In general, the corn crop is in various stages of grain fill from R2 to R3 (some earlier some later).  At this stage drought can cause kernel abortion (tip back) and start to reduce kernel depth.  If we can get rain this week, there is a chance to have limited impact from lack of rain, however, in other areas there will be more severe yield loss.


Looking Ahead

While we are still a long way from closing the books on the 2019 crop, it is time to begin to look ahead to 2020.  The next several weeks offer an excellent opportunity to see new hybrids and varieties for next year.  And then it’s a great time to lock in your seed order.

2019 Field Days will showcase many new, high-yielding Dairyland Seed hybrids and varieties.  Attending a field day in your community is a great way to see firsthand what is available for next year.  Depending on the field day, you will see grain hybrids, silage hybrids, and soybeans that fit your geography and your farm. At many of the field day sites, you will see firsthand the new Enlist E3™ soybean lines and / or the Enlist weed control system.  In all situations you can see hybrid and variety performance in “real world” situations.  That can be invaluable information as you plan for next year.

Many local Dairyland dealers have plots and will host field days.  In addition, there are a few more regional opportunities at centralized research and demonstration sites.  These would include the PAR (Product & Agronomy Research) plot in Wisconsin located near Mt. Hope on Thursday, September 5, and the Wabash, Indiana fields days (August 21-22-23) at the Dairyland Research and Demonstration Farm.

Contact your local Dairyland dealer, District Sales Manager, or Regional Agronomist to learn about field day opportunities in your community.

Brian Weller
Western Region
Dan Ritter
Central Region
Branden Furseth
Northern Region
Rod King
Eastern Region
Terry Jones
Eastern Region
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