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Alfalfa-Grass mix


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#1 sethd11

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 09:35 AM

I am trying to get a good grass mix for our next round of planting and here is the mix i am thinking of. 30% alfalfa and then a mix of timothy and amba orchard grass. Has anyone planted that mix before? Also my biggest question is should i have 50/50 mix of the timothy /orchard or higher of one or the other.
Hay is strictly for horsey people so thats why I throw in the alfalfa. The ground it is being planted on is a poorly drained clay ground. Anyone happen to know seeding rates? Or recomended lbs of each seed and how many lbs an acre? Reason for post is because i dont have a seed guy. In case you all were curious.. any input appreciated on this topic.
Thanks
SETH

#2 hay wilson in TX

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 10:18 AM

Hay is strictly for horsey people so thats why I throw in the alfalfa
Why the alfalfa just thrown in with the a grass mix, and on poorly drianed soils.
Is it a sales thing to sell grass hay to People, who should be feeding grass hay to start with?
Unless the hay buyer is training horses for racing or rodeo work, or has a lady horse with a baby at the side, alfalfa is more than the horse really needs,
Grass hay, managed for 12% protein, is a more than the average horse ever needs.

Now a mix is a good idea, but why not include some crag grass and some blue grass also. Maybe some Tiff Grass for an exotic.

As for alfalfa it will be only for soil health and 3 to 5 lbs of alfalfa seed will do that for you.

Your hay probably will be managed for one of your grasses.

Any alfalfa you plant I would suggest having good resistance to the root rot potental. PRR, Aph race 1 & 2
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#3 prairie

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 02:49 PM

The mixed hay should work well for the horse hay market. As hay wilson stated most horses don't need alfalfa, but their owners think they do. The same goes for meadow fescue and soft leaf type varieties of endophyte free or friendly endophyte tall fescue, both species make an excellent addition to a horse hay mix. But, the mere mention of the word fescue causes almost all horse owners eyes to glaze over, teeth to start gnashing and they begin to rant about things they know very little and usually nothing about. It is much easier to give them want they want instead of what they need, than try to educate them.
I would recommend 8 lbs of alfalfa, 8 lbs orchardgrass (late maturing), and 4 lbs timothy. Add 5 lbs of annual ryegrass or Italian ryegrass if a companion crop is desired.
The Amba orchardgrass you mentioned is an early maturing variety.

#4 sethd11

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 07:49 AM

The mixed hay should work well for the horse hay market. As hay wilson stated most horses don't need alfalfa, but their owners think they do. The same goes for meadow fescue and soft leaf type varieties of endophyte free or friendly endophyte tall fescue, both species make an excellent addition to a horse hay mix. But, the mere mention of the word fescue causes almost all horse owners eyes to glaze over, teeth to start gnashing and they begin to rant about things they know very little and usually nothing about. It is much easier to give them want they want instead of what they need, than try to educate them.
I would recommend 8 lbs of alfalfa, 8 lbs orchardgrass (late maturing), and 4 lbs timothy. Add 5 lbs of annual ryegrass or Italian ryegrass if a companion crop is desired.
The Amba orchardgrass you mentioned is an early maturing variety.


Ok, thanks for the help. Hay wilson, The only reason i throw in alfalfa is because 80% of my customers always want a touch of alfalfa. I figure that ill plant a super hardy and disease resistant variety, maybe some more of that hybrid stuff from dairyland. They have some branch rooted varietys that do well on poor soils. PRAIRIE, On that mix you recomended , will that give me 50/50 orchard/timothy? Or is more orchard better? I really dont know but about seed. Wish there was a class i could go to. On that mention of fescue, which i am also only google educated on, my horse customers couldn't even id it in a bale. But the newer customers always ask about it.

#5 aawhite

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 08:18 AM

I would think you would get more tonnage with your grass mix weighted to orchard grass over timothy.

#6 hayray

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 08:53 AM

Alfalfa is important for nitrogen fixation and for regrowth potential for 2nd and 3rd cuttings. Dis-regard all the talk about equine nutrition and grow more for potential of economic yield. Cool season grasses really don't grow well after first cutting in this region but legumes do. Alfalfa does not do the best on clay type soils so select a branch rooted variety that is less suseptable to frost heaving winter kill. Select a late maturity orchard grass also. 10 lbs. alfalfa, 5 lbs. orchardgrass, and 2 pounds timothy should be a fine mixture.
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#7 rjmoses

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 09:19 AM

As hay wilson stated most horses don't need alfalfa, but their owners think they do. ..... of endophyte free or friendly endophyte tall fescue, both species make an excellent addition to a horse hay mix. But, the mere mention of the word fescue causes almost all horse owners eyes to glaze over, teeth to start gnashing and they begin to rant about things they know very little and usually nothing about. It is much easier to give them want they want instead of what they need, than try to educate them.


I agree with the above.

Endophyte infected fescue affects only pregnant mares. And the endophyte fungus resides in the seed heads. If the fescue is cut at or before milk stage or is 2nd/3rd cutting -- no problem One study I read stated that if you plant endophyte free seed, and your neighbor's fescue is infected, you will be infected within 5 years.

Ralph

#8 dbergh

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 09:32 AM

All good points above. We add Alfalfa in our mix for customer satisfaction, nitrogen fixation and the fact that our grass production drops way off during 2nd and 3rd cuttings so the alfalfa picks up the slack on those two to help keep our yields fairly steady on all three( or sometimes 4) cuttings. Fescue is a dirty word for some horse owners and as mentioned most don't know much of what they speak but we avoid it in our blend so as to avoid having to explain things over and over to them. Easier just to tell them no fescue in ours. Nitrogen fixation is a big factor for us. We get by on very little applied N and generally just use a maintenance program of P for the alfalfa component: (120 to 150 units per year) applied twice during the season. We will throw a little N in the first app in the spring to help give the grass a boost but no where near as much N as a straight grass crop requires in my experience. Absolutely right that the animals do not need the Alfalfa component in most cases but once the owners get used to feeding it they discover they can cut back on their rations and still maintain the animals in good condition on fewer pounds of feed per day. Works well for us from an economic and production standpoint and customers love it once they get a hold of it in my experience. If straight grass works well from an economic standpoint then by all means go for that. Just wasn't a good fit for our areas.
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#9 sethd11

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 08:11 AM

Wow, that was a lot to think about..
1)What is nitrogen fixation
2)to my understanding then the ideal mix is roughly 10lbs an acre alfalfa, 5-10 lbs orchard grass and 2-5 lbs timothy.
I would rather plant the mix heavier than light as long as the grass won't strangle the alfalfa.
BTW I really appreciate the help, and I am wondering if you guys know of any classes online or not that I can look into that would increase my knowledge on this stuff. I know just enough to get by and that's not enough.

#10 hayray

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 08:29 AM

Illinois has a forage council, can't remember the name of it for sure but it was listed in my last AFGC newsletter. That would be a mostly producer member organization that would have conferences for producers through out the year to learn the above mentioned info. I just attended our annual Forage Technology Conference put on ,by our Michigan Forage Council. Also, Illinois Extension Service should have meetings for producers to learn forage production.

#11 aawhite

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 04:32 PM

The University Extension Service would have an extensive library of online material for raising a variety of crops in your area. Will likely be a lot more on row crop practices than forages, but is always a good source and its tailored to your region. There may be a cost, varies by university.

#12 North Maine

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 08:42 AM

Wow, that was a lot to think about..
1)What is nitrogen fixation
2)to my understanding then the ideal mix is roughly 10lbs an acre alfalfa, 5-10 lbs orchard grass and 2-5 lbs timothy.
I would rather plant the mix heavier than light as long as the grass won't strangle the alfalfa.
BTW I really appreciate the help, and I am wondering if you guys know of any classes online or not that I can look into that would increase my knowledge on this stuff. I know just enough to get by and that's not enough.


Nitrogen fixing is a trait that some plants have (up here clover is the best for us) where the plant actually returns nitrogen into the soil instead of depleting it. They can act as a natural fertilizer or rotational crop to keep fields performing well. With the alfalfa mixed in with your blend and its nitrogen fixing characteristics it will help return nitrogen into the soil that your grasses are pulling out of it, increasing your yield, decreasing your fertilizer costs, and lengthening the amount of time the field is productive.

http://en.wikipedia....trogen_fixation

specifically the section on root nodule symbiosis.

#13 hay wilson in TX

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 05:00 PM

Fort Kent !

I put a little time in at Loring AFB back in the 1970's. Bought a Cessna 150 at the Caribou AP and flew around looking for places to land.
When transfered to Fort Worth, TX flew the Cessna 150 there. Used it to teach flying on the West Stide of Fort Worth.

We really enjoyed our short stay at Loring. Can't say much for the weather but the people were really great.
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