Although they started late, alfalfa crops are now growing well enough for cutting to begin in the southern part of the state this week.
Warm weather recently helped alfalfa fields in Pennsylvania catch up on growth after a slow start this spring, reports Marvin Hall, forage specialist with Penn State University Extension.
“Two weeks ago, everything was really looking delayed,” says Hall. “But then we had some good, hot weather over the weekend, with highs in the 80s. With the soil moisture we had in place, that really pushed the crop along.”
As a result, some growers in the southern part of the state will likely start first-crop harvest this week. “So we’re still about a week to 10 days behind normal. But we’re a lot further ahead than we were thinking we’d be.”
For the most part, alfalfa made it through the winter without much winterkill damage. “It’s looking pretty healthy.”
In recent weeks, premium dairy-quality alfalfa sold for $240-260/ton in the state and timothy hay around $300/ton. Hall looks for prices to stay fairly steady as new crop comes on. “We’ll most likely get the normal drop in prices that we get in midsummer when everybody has hay. But there’s nothing right now that would indicate it will be a big drop.”
Contact Hall at 814-863-1019 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To see Pennsylvania forage first-hand, producers and industry representatives are invited to attend the June 25-26 American Forage and Grassland Council (AFGC) summer forage meeting and tour at Lake Raystown Resort Lodge, Entriken. Get a brochure.