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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In the spring of 2015 my family found ourselves in charge of my grandma's farm and have never done any farming. For example, I learned to drive a tractor this year. We had approximately 100 acres that needed planting, so we readied the fields that previously had alfalfa in them, but most of the alfalfa was dead and we were left with weeds. The fields were planted with approximately 25 pounds per acre of alfalfa and 20 pounds per acre of oats. We didn't know when we should cut out oats, so we let them get extremely long and then went about cutting them. Now that we are in the process of harvesting our fields, it seems that we have very little alfalfa among the oats. I am trying to determine what happened and what we can do to save our fields. My first thought is that the oats out competed the alfafa meaning that they sheilded the alfalfa from the sun causing the alfalfa to die.

Additionally, we are in the part of the country where the Gold King Mine spill prevented us from getting water for about 20 days. This obviously did not help our little plants.

My question is, what are your thoughts on reseeding the fields instead of tilling them and starting over again? Seeing as they really didn't have alfalfa to start with I do not think the toxic effect will be in play. There is a little new growth, but it is very thin. My thought is that I would like to reseed the fields using about 15 pounds per acre of alfalfa seed and drill the seed directly into the old growth. Will my plan work?
 

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I vote you need to rotate something else for a year and then try again.
 
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Contact the NM hay Growers Association.

http://www.nmhay.com/

Also contact DR Mark Marsalis [email protected] with your questions. He is the NM Forage Specialist. Good man.

For some reason alfalfa does not suffer with auto-toxicity here in Central Texas.

There is a forage conference in Ruidoso Every February. Try to attend.
 

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I agree with the packman
 

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I would agree with starting over. One option, if you want to get back to alfalfa quick, is you could till what is there under and plant a forage crop like a fall barley, wheat or other mix. Then next spring cut it and bale or chop it around the time you would take off a first crop alfalfa. You then could drill alfalfa right into the stubble. I did this a couple of years ago and it works good as long as you have the water to keep the young plans wet. Up here I got two cuttings off of it but you are warmer and might get more.
 

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Oh, and welcome to HayTalk, fellow New Mexican.

Just FYI, I have nothing good to say about spring-planted alfalfa down here in the Valley. Your climate may differ enough from mine to make it work, but down here, IF you can get the seedlings to survive the legendary March winds, then your first cutting will be 90% weeds, and your second cutting will be light and 30% weeds. I much prefer to seed mid-September through mid-October.

I'd consider rotating with anything you can get harvested and the ground prepped by mid or end of September 2016.
 

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Sounds like weather is different from here. I have seen wind mow little alfalfa plants right off, we don't get strong winds often. I also prefer establishing alfalfa in the fall, it's some extra work to water it up but the next year you can have great yields. As for weed control what are common practices down there?
 

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The two preferred methods are A: to spray Persuit, which is usually not worth it with spring hay because of such thin yields (most people will just cut while weeds are still tender and feed to cattle). Or B: to plant a nurse crop of oats with the alfalfa, but again, you essentially lose your first two cuts
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
If I understand your suggestions correctly, I should assume that my pathetic fields are a wash this year and start fresh. I'm in the northwest corner of New Mexico, so unless I can manage to get everything ready in the next two weeks or so I'm probably looking at either a spring 2016 or fall 2016 planting. I did alfalfa with an oat cover last year as well. How soon do I cut the oats to begin with? This year I waited and am thinking that I killed a lot of alfalfa because my lovely oats took over. I doubt I should wait until the oats get heads because it seems the idea of a nurse crop is to just get the alfalfa started and then get rid of the oats, so ballpark figure am I looking at cutting the oats when they are approximately 6 inches? Also, when I cut them do I bale them as usual or should I do something else?

If I somehow manage to get my field ready, what do you think my outside deadline is to get the seeds into the ground?

Yours thoughts are much appreciated.
 

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I have planted down here as late as the 7th of Nov, but after about the 20th of Oct you are garaunteed to have to spray for mustard. And as far north as you are, I'm guessing you'd probably have to subtract 10 days from me.

In theory, you should actually be able to plant alfalfa any time of year and make it work, but for me it's far and away easiest in the fall.

If you do decide to try spring alfalfa with oats to nurse, I wouldn't cut them at 6", but I wouldn't wait til they're 5' either. I'd say somewhere around the 24" range would probably be good. And just bale 'em up like normal.

But, given your info above, if I was you I'd rotate a year to make good and sure you aren't gonna run into problems with allelopathy and end up back at square one.
 
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