Alfalfa Harvest Alert program to kick off for 2022

University of Minnesota Extension

The Alfalfa Harvest Alert program helps forage producers stay on top of current alfalfa conditions to optimize quality and yield.  This project is in its 26th year and is a collaboration between the Central Minnesota Forage Council and University of Minnesota Extension in Stearns, Benton, and Morrison Counties in conjunction with various agribusinesses sponsors, and farmers. Cooperator sites have been arranged in Stearns, Benton, Morrison, Wright, McLeod, Sibley, Nicollet, Carver, and Yellow Medicine counties. 

How the program works

This project kicks off when alfalfa reaches between 14 to 16 inches tall. Project cooperators will sample fields Monday and Thursday mornings. Generally, when alfalfa gets around 24 inches tall, we can expect to start seeing buds. The bud stage is usually when forage quality is in the range for better quality dairy hay and harvest takes place.

Measure Alfalfa Height

Last year, alfalfa sample collection started on May 4th and ended on June 1st. Clipped samples are tested to determine Relative Feed Quality (RFQ), Relative Feed Value (RFV), Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF), and other alfalfa quality factors related to harvest decisions. Quality and maturity will also be estimated through an equation called the “Predictive Equation for Alfalfa Quality” (PEAQ) RFV. This process uses the stage of maturity and height of the tallest stems to estimate RFV and NDF.

Data tool available  

The Alfalfa Harvest Alert Data Tool is active again this year. We have uploaded the remainder of the data going back to the programs start in 1997. This tool will allow you to select and sort data by year, county, and grower to look back and compare RFV, RFQ, and PEAQ RFV. As the 2022 season progresses this will be the home for all collected information and will remain active throughout the entire year. Go to z.umn.edu/AlfalfaHarvestAlert and check it out.

How to get the latest alert information  

The Alfalfa Harvest Alert Project information will be shared similarly from past years. KASM 1150 AM, KTLF 960 AM, and WVAL 800 AM are sponsoring radio reports in the Stearns, Benton, and Morrison County area. KRWC 1360 AM will be sponsoring reports for Wright, Meeker, and McLeod counties. 

Internet users can visit Minnesota Crop News for posted hay information. The results can also be directly emailed to you by going to z.umn.edu/tricountysignup and subscribing to the email list. 

Finally, you can also call me at 608-515-4414 to get the latest updated results from the project or if you have any questions. Other counties will be working with other radio stations and information access points. We appreciate the hard work by all the farm and agribusiness cooperators and sponsors for this project.