In parts of the Midwest, wet weather has delayed planting so much that alfalfa may be ready to cut before row-crop planting is finished. But farmers should strive to get their alfalfa cut on time, says Keith Johnson, Purdue University extension forage specialist.
Late cutting can have a big impact on quality, Johnson warns.
"An alfalfa crop that on May 15 might be worth $100 a ton may be worth $60 a ton two weeks later," he says.
Cutting at late bud to early flower stage ensures good vigor and stand persistence, too, and increases total production.
"In Indiana, farmers who raise alfalfa ought to get four cuttings," says Johnson. "If you’re delayed in getting the first crop off – even by 10 days – it can push you into a three-harvest scenario."