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How should I plant alfalfa


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#1 Markpnw

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Posted 23 March 2021 - 03:50 PM

Hey guys I got all my fields ready and this will be my first time putting in alfalfa. I want to nurse crop it with one bushel of oats per acre and 20lbs alfalfa. I only have a grain drill but no small seed box. Should I plant oats first then fill my box up with alfalfa and pack behind? Or should I just straight seed alfalfa?

#2 PaulN

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Posted 24 March 2021 - 09:22 AM

You have several options. The first one, you already mentioned. Oats as a nurse crop with the alfalfa. When the oats is planted early enough, it will sprout before most weeds, and that will give you fairly good weed control. However, the oats will also be competition for the alfalfa, giving it a slower start.

 

Generally speaking, direct seeding alfalfa will almost always give you the best stand. In my experience with direct seeding in the spring, there was a tremendous amount of weed pressure. I used Pursuit herbicide postemerge, and it did an excellent job. I got two small hay crops that first year.

 

In my area, alfalfa can be planted up until August 15. That means that I can plant a small grain in early spring, and have it harvested before August 15, and still have time to plant alfalfa. Another advantage of fall seeding is that the weed pressure is off, and no need for chemicals.

 

Paul N


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#3 Markpnw

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Posted 24 March 2021 - 11:01 AM

Since I don’t have a small seed box how should I go abouts planting with oats should I drill oats separately first then put in alfalfa separately? Or is there a setting I can use on my drill to give the desired poundage of oats and alfalfa at the same time.

#4 endrow

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Posted 24 March 2021 - 11:51 AM

A make shift way of doing it  and used by many , they will hand mix the oats and the alfalfa seed and possibly orchard grass together at the proper ratio. they will stop often along the way and hand mix the seed in the drill box  as it tends to separate. .   Here in the east there is still alot of spring seeded hay crops started with oats .. If you are using older drill without depth control run the packer over the tilled ground to get a firm seed bed . With a oats companion crop you can seed that mix at a depth of 3/8 to 1/2" deep because the alfalfa will follow the oats out if it was dropped from the same boot .   That is not the best way but that is a good way 



#5 endrow

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Posted 24 March 2021 - 11:54 AM

A make shift way of doing it  and used by many , they will hand mix the oats and the alfalfa seed and possibly orchard grass together at the proper ratio. they will stop often along the way and hand mix the seed in the drill box  as it tends to separate. .   Here in the east there is still alot of spring seeded hay crops started with oats .. If you are using older drill without depth control run the packer over the tilled ground to get a firm seed bed . With a oats companion crop you can seed that mix at a depth of 3/8 to 1/2" deep because the alfalfa will follow the oats out if it was dropped from the same boot .   That is not the best way but that is a good way 

And i did mean run the packer before the drill , to plant firm and avoid  planting to deep 



#6 Ray 54

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Posted 24 March 2021 - 11:16 PM

I have never seeded alfalfa, but the common thinking is small seeds need to closer to the top than the oats. That is how the small seed box works, drops it on top the of the ground. The seed opener discs move just a bit of dirt to put a bit over small seeds. Also with the price of alfalfa seed most any drill I have dealt with would be grinding the small seed to get the rate down where you want it. Or you mix it with the oats, witch is not going to be real even from my experience mixing seeds in a drill, but it was not a small seed.

 

 

I have seen new small seed boxes added to old drills before. If much alfalfa is grown in the area can you rent a Brillion brand seeder for small seeds. That was that was the way it was done here. 



#7 Markpnw

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Posted 25 March 2021 - 12:38 PM

I’m not sure where to rent those brillion seeders. I’ve called several shops and haven’t heard back. My grain drill does have an alfalfa setting but I will try to calibrate it as close as possible to my seeding rate and make sure it doesn’t get crushed I guess I’ll have to update how it goes. I’m hoping for the best strand possible.

#8 Ray 54

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Posted 25 March 2021 - 10:09 PM

The alfalfa seed was expensive years ago and only more so now. But if your drill has a setting for it in the chart gives me more faith it should put out a correct amount. I have put safflower seed through my JD 8350 at 15 lbs acre with every other run closed off. Safflower is about the size of wheat seed but much lighter per bu.  That experience is what made me say not to try without a small seed box.



#9 vhaby

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Posted 28 March 2021 - 06:03 PM

By all means, as stated earlier, pack the seed bed using a weighted roller. Do this after your last disking and after that disked soil has received rain. A soil is properly packed when a walking boot heel makes an indentation of 1/4 inch deep. If you are going to pre-plant the oats before seeding the alfalfa, pull the packing roller behind the drill to repack the soil for the alfalfa seeding. My JD 8300 drill has a small seed box and dbl disk openers, but no depth bands on the openers. I have to use a series of different sized spacers on the shaft of the hydraulic cylinder that raises and lowers the disks. A sufficient number of spacers are used until the disk openers cut no more than 1/2 inch deep. This means that, if the seedbed is not properly prepared and has uneven spots, there will be times that a few of the disks will not touch the soil and the alfalfa seed will be dropped on the surface. If this is the situation with your seedbed, plan to do the seeding into a moist soil and when there is a great possibility of several days of rain following seeding. It has been stated that a properly seeded alfalfa field will have 30% of the seeds on the soil surface. 



#10 Markpnw

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 02:17 PM

I harrowed my field out and straight seeded alfalfa and picked right behind the drill with a brillion style roller. Yes I did notice seeds here and there on the surface. My grain drill did a good job of planting IMO but I guess we’ll see. I was planting 15lbs to the acre because it was raw seed I bought and inoculated myself. My biggest worry is that the wind would have blown a bunch of seed away, we had a wind storm a day later with 30mph and some 50mph gusts.




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