Alfalfa quality: when to cut first-crop
Determining when to cut first-crop alfalfa is often difficult because alfalfa quality, relative to flowering stage, varies greatly. To help with this dilemma, agronomists at the University of Wisconsin - Madison developed the Predictive Equations for Alfalfa Quality (PEAQ) method which predicts alfalfa’s Relative Feed Value (RFV) at the time of cutting.
The PEAQ method measures standing alfalfa’s forage quality before it is harvested by measuring alfalfa height using a wooden PEAQ measuring stick and an equation to determine alfalfa’s RFV. The RFV values are calculated based on the alfalfa plant’s maturity stage.
Dodge and Fond du Lac Forage Council members will be evaluating forage conditions by collecting biweekly PEAQ readings on Mondays and Thursdays starting May 14th through May 31th. These PEAQ readings will be reported and available on the Dodge and Fond du Lac County UW-Extension websites. In addition, a few Fond du Lac sites may be evaluated using the scissor cut method. These results will be posted with the PEAQ readings, as well.
However, any farmers growing alfalfa are encouraged to report their PEAQ readings by noon on Mondays and Thursdays by calling the Dodge County UW- Extension office at 920-386-3790 or the Fond du Lac UW-Extension office at 920-929-3171. The more readings reported will allow for a more precise review of the forage conditions and alfalfa development in both counties.
Those reporting their PEAQ readings are asked to provide a general location of the field (closest town), the relative feed value, alfalfa height, alfalfa stage of development, and age of alfalfa stand. The complete procedure for Estimating Alfalfa RFV in the Field Using PEAQ can be found online on the UW-Extension Team Forage Website at:
http://ow.ly/FGCf30jM2iI. The Dodge County Forage Council has PEAQ sticks available to purchase for $5 at the Dodge County UW Extension office.
Producers can access current Dodge County PEAQ readings at the Dodge County UW-Extension website at dodge.uwex.edu/agriculture/forage-council/ or at the Dodge County Forage Council Facebook page. The Fond du Lac readings will be available at the Fond du Lac UW-Extension site fyi.uwex.edu/fdlag/alfalfa/ . Please connect with UW-Extension for each county on Facebook, as well, or call 920-386-3790 or 920-929-3171.
The Dodge and Fond du Lac County Forage Councils and UW-Extension are dedicated to the production of higher quality forage through education and application.