Alfalfa silage is packed on the Albert Hale farm. Hale is one of several Georgia growers who are interseeding alfalfa into bermudagrass to increase forage quality.
The following eight-step management plan, to interseed alfalfa into bermudagrass, was put together by Donald Wood, University of Georgia (UGA) forage breeding program coordinator.
Wood is working with Joe Bouton, UGA emeritus professor; Dennis Hancock, UGA Extension forage specialist; and Athens Seed Co., Watkinsville. At this point, nine growers throughout Georgia have followed the steps and are proving that the alfalfa-bermudagrass system is viable.
Here’s what Wood recommends:
1) The seeding site must be well-drained.
2) Its soil must be tested and brought to adequate levels, including 6.5 pH, 100 lbs/acre of phosphorus and 250-300 lbs/acre potassium.
3) Before seeding alfalfa, bermudagrass must be mowed or grazed very short, to 1-2”, and sprayed with a contact herbicide (Gramoxone at 1 qt/acre or glyphosate at 9 oz/acre of 5.5-lb ai/gallon, or glyphosate at 12 oz of 4-lb ai formulation).
4) Fire can be used to burn off bermudagrass after the chemical burndown.
5) Plant on 7-9” rows no deeper than ½”.
6) After alfalfa emerges, spray insecticide (Mustang or Karate at the highest rates allowed to control field crickets that feed on seedlings at night).
7) Plant, in the Mountains and Piedmont area, from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15; in the Coastal Plains region, Oct. 15-Nov. 15.
8)Plant alfalfa at a 22- to 25-lb/acre seeding rate.