Mike Haedt, a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) based in Green Bay, WI, has spent the better part of 40 years educating his growers to understand the plant’s genetic makeup, the importance and significance of the plant’s growth environment and how to swing the “production pendulum” in the direction of better yields – even in a drought year.
“Understanding how alfalfa grows and its relationship to forage yield, forage quality and carbohydrate root reserves is critical to production of high quality hay,” Haedt emphasizes. “Alfalfa is a perennial plant that stores carbohydrates (sugars and starches) in the crown and root. Plants use these carbo- hydrate reserves for regrowth both in the spring and after each cutting. Assuring that the plant has reserves and access to both is the difference in making enough haylage or having to disrupt your bottom line by buying more.”
All indications point to the fact that dairies are going to use more alfalfa hay in the milk-cow rations and reduce the amount of corn because of the rising corn costs. There are some strong indications that farmers are going to see a stronger milk price in the months ahead. So, with that in mind, there will be more demand from dairies for high quality alfalfa hay nationwide. “It’s critical that we grow as much alfalfa per acre of land than ever before,” Haedt asserts.