Alfalfa hay growers in Indiana are dealing with a challenging growing season this year – as they did in 2012. But the weather that’s causing it is like “night and day,” reports Keith Johnson, forage specialist with Purdue University Extension.

Last year, quantity was a major issue for growers across the state, with a mid-April freeze and drought from June into early August that severely reduced yields and overall production. So far this year, moisture has been plentiful, but many producers have been concerned about quality of their first cuttings.

“We had one weather system after another moving through,” says Johnson. “It made it extremely difficult for anyone to put up hay in a timely fashion. A lot of first-crop hay wasn’t made until the third week in June. That’s an extremely late start for us. It’s going to throw off a lot of cutting schedules for the entire year.”

Johnson expects to see an extreme difference in forage quality within individual farms and among all farms. “Forage testing is going to be extremely critical this year.”

He’s gathered sporadic reports of slow alfalfa growth following first-crop harvest. “My presumption is that it might be a matter of alfalfa weevils eating the second crop as fast as it’s able to grow.”

Johnson can be reached at 765-494-4800 or

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