Extremely wet soils following a snowy winter have kept many Indiana alfalfa growers from getting a start on spring seeding, reports Keith Johnson, Purdue University Extension forage specialist.

“We have super-saturated soils in some areas,” he says. “The good news is that, unless things change dramatically, we’re not heading into the season thinking about an early May drought.”

Typically, most Indiana growers look to have their alfalfa and cool-season grass seed planted by April 15. “But I doubt if much of that has happened this year, especially in situations where growers are going into clean seed beds and doing tillage.”

Seeding past the first part of May will require more intensive management, says Johnson. “You’ll need to be more vigilant about weed control, since summer annuals will be wanting to sprout and competing with the alfalfa. If you plant late, you could also run into problems with potato leafhoppers. The seedlings are more susceptible when they’re still small.”

As for hay supplies in the state between now and new crop, Johnson says there should be enough hay available to meet demand. “Pastures are coming out of the winter slowly. And livestock producers had to feed a lot of hay this winter. So the inventory is reduced a bit more than usual. But I’m not getting the idea that we’re going to be seeing any real deficits.”