Wisconsin bankers' farm bulletin
Graber, L. F.
Wisconsin bankers' farm bulletin. Bulletin no. 22: how to grow alfalfa PDF (1.1 MB)
does not get sufficient growth before the first killing frost to withstand the winter. In those sections where canning peas are grown and harvested in June or the first part of July the soil may be disced and harrowed arld inocu- lated immediately after the peas are harvested and the alfalfa seeded at the rate of 20 pounds per acre with good results. Seeding alfalfa after a grain crop has been cut is dependent for success on the amount of rainfall. Too often the soil is so dry at this time that It is impossible to work up a good seed bed prior to August 15. Where a crop of tobacco or sugar beets has been raised and the land prac- tically freed of weeds the alfalfa may be seeded alone in the early spring and two, sometimes three, good cuttings are secured the first year. When should alfalfa be cut? To maintain a good stand of alfalfa nothing is so important as to cut the crop at the proper time. The first cutting will come in the early part of June-a trying time to cure the hay. The proper cutting stage is when the plants have just begun to bloom and the little shoots or sprouts at the crowns have made their appearance and are on the average not over an inch in length. To delay the cutting of alfalfa until the entire field is In blossom is a very poor practice. At this stage the little shoots or sprouts at the base of the stem which produce the second crop will have grown three to five inches in length. In mowing these will be clipped off and the second growth delayed two or three weeks. The tLird cutting will then not be ready until the middle or latter part of September. If the third crop is harvested at this time the alfalfa seldom secures sufficient growth before cold weather to withstand the winter. Many failures are due to late fall cutting. Alfalfa should never be cut after September 5. Curing alfalfa hay. The best hay is made by cocking the alfalfa and cover- ing it with hay caps, which insures protection against rains. The hay is bunched usually on the same day it is cut when in a good wilted condition. By allowing It to cure in this manner for two days, the leaves and stems dry out uniformly, with little loss, and you get a bright green hay of the best quality. When alfalfa hay is harvested on a large scale, or if labor is scarce, hay caps are not always used. After the hay is well wilted, it is raked into long windrows with a side-delivery rake and allowed to cure here for two days. It may be loaded with a drum hay loader or hauled in with sweep rakes. Alfalfa hay will stand more rain than either timothy or clover. Why alfalfa fails. During the past three years over one thousand reports on alfalfa growing in Wisconsin have been received by the Alfalfa Or4er- Wisconsin's Alfalfa Grower's Association. These reports clearly show that the principal causes for failures with alfalfa in Wisconsin are as follows: 1. Failure on part of farmer to inoculate the soil. 2. Attempting to grow alfalfa on sour or acid soils without liming the land. 3. Poor preparation of the seed bed and improper methods of seeding. 4. Weeds-heavy growths of which crowd out the alfalfa. 5. Too thick seeding of the nurse crop. Not over one bushel of grain should be sown with the alfalfa and if oats is usdd it should be cut for hay. 6. Late seeding. Seeding after August 15 is a dangerous practice. Suffi- cient growth is often not secured before cold weather sets in so that the alfalfa may stand the winter. 7. Late cutting. Cutting alfalfa after the first week In September has resulted in serious winter-killing of many otherwise good stands of alfalfa- Alfalfa should have at least six to eight inches growth to afford sufficient winter protection. 8. Pasturing. Late and close pasturing are particularly dangerous. 9. Poor soils. Although alfalfa is a great soil enricher it requires at least a medium fertile soil. Poor soils should be well manured. 10. Low, flat, poorly drained soils. Alfalfa requires a well drained field. On flat, heavy clay soils which hold water from melting snows and heavy rains in the early spring alfalfa may be heaved out by alternate freezing and thawixg weather. A sloping-field which will provide ample run-off for surface water Is more desirable.
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