Is alfalfa regrowth a problem in your area? It is in Nebraska, says Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska Extension forage specialist.
“I’ve been hearing a lot lately about folks cutting alfalfa once, sometimes twice, and then not getting hardly any regrowth,” he says. “What does come back isn’t very vigorous, but it starts blooming in just a few weeks.”
It’s a result, in part, of last winter’s mild temperatures that kept alfalfa from going fully dormant, he believes. “All winter long, its root system slowly depleted the nutrient reserves it had accumulated during fall winterization. At the same time, unfrozen soil was slowly drying out. This didn’t hurt – at first. Then the super-early warm spring started alfalfa to grow rapidly, which left root reserves at lower-than-usual levels following first cut. That’s why some of you noticed that regrowth wasn’t as vigorous as expected.”
To top that off, dryland alfalfa fields more than about three years old have already used most of their available subsoil moisture. “These fields may struggle to produce much more hay all year, even if they receive average summer precipitation.
“The take-home message: Hay production easily could be short this year. Get what you can, while you can,” Anderson advises.