If soil moisture is sufficient, late summer can be a good time to seed alfalfa in Wisconsin, says Mike Rankin, Fond du Lac County crops and soils agent. But, like with spring seedings, proper establishment practices must be fol-lowed, says Rankin. Know your soil-test levels before seeding and make any necessary fertilizer and lime applications. Then prepare a firm seedbed; that’s critical.
“Consider rolling or cultipacking both before and after seeding to improve seed-soil contact and to conserve soil moisture,” Rankin advises.
No companion crop or preplant herbicide is needed and, while a postemer-gent herbicide application is an option, the first frost will kill most annual weeds.
The seeding should be made six to eight weeks before the first killing frost. In east-central Wisconsin, where Rankin is located, Aug. 1-10 is ideal most years. Seeding too late won’t give the plants enough time to grow sufficiently before winter. Seeding too early increases the risk of hot, dry conditions dur-ing germination and seedling development.
“However, if moisture and field conditions are optimum during late July, I wouldn’t hesitate to begin,” says Rankin.