Control weeds early in spring-seeded alfalfa, reminds Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska Extension forage specialist. "Many weeds grow faster than alfalfa seedlings, robbing them of moisture, nutrients and light. Left uncontrolled, weeds can cause thin stands, weak plants and lower yields," he cautions.

If grasses such as foxtail or crabgrass are likely to be a problem in new alfalfa, use a pre-plant incorporated herbicide like trifluralin, Balan, or Eptam. These herbicides also control many small-seeded broadleaf weeds, including lambsquarter and kochia. Larger-seeded broadleaves such as velvetleafs and sunflowers can be mowed later for good control.

If alfalfa was seeded without a pre-plant treatment and weeds arrive later, post-emergent herbicides such as Buctril and 2,4-DB take care of broadleaves. Poast Plus and Select control grasses, and Raptor and Pursuit control a combination of weeds. "They can rescue your alfalfa as long as weeds are sprayed before they get very tall," he says.

Roundup may make it easier to control weeds in seedling Roundup Ready alfalfa. But use these other herbicides correctly and your new alfalfa can get a good, clean, and fast start, he says.

Hay production and management strategies, along with presentations on co-existing with wildlife, will be the focus of the May 16 O.D. Butler Field Day at Camp Cooley Ranch, near Franklin, TX.

Other agenda topics delve into the economics of hay, soil preparation for sprigging or seeding grasses, weed and grass control in newly established bermudagrass, grasshopper control and more. The registration fee is $25 and includes refreshments, a barbecue lunch and printed materials. For more information, call 979-828-4270 or 979-823-0129.

Prices for dairy-quality, new-crop alfalfa in Nebraska will likely settle in at around $1.20-1.40 per point of relative feed value (RFV), according to a recent blog on the Nebraska Alfalfa Market Association  (N.A.M.A.) website. “That translates to alfalfa with a relative feed value of 170 being priced from approximately $200-240/ton at the stack.  That actually is not far off of the current pricing on old-crop dairy hay.”

Organizers of the 2014 California Alfalfa, Forage and Grain Symposium, scheduled for Dec. 10-12 in Long Beach, CA, are hard at working mapping out plans for the event. Among the topics sure to be on the agenda are water, pest management and forage economics. Check the University of California Extension Alfalfa and Forages website for updates.