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Seeding Alfalfa

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Well-known member
Feb 10, 2005
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Southwest Manitoba
I'm going to try and sow some alfalfa AGAIN this year. Haven't had much luck at it the last few years, between drought,grasshoppers,frost and wind!!!
I'm just curious about what seems to work for other people when it comes to getting a good catch.
I'm using oats as a cover crop, seeded at a bushel and a quarter per acre and 8 pounds of alfalfa per acre. My soil is light and sandy.
Does this sound like it might work??????
Should work, according to all my sources. That is the kind of ground alfalfa likes. We haven't had any luck either, but our ground is heavier. We have asked EVERYONE, and what you have done is recommended by most. So, I say to you,

GOOD LUCK!! :wink:
We have had the best luck by putting the hoses right in the disks. We used to just let it scatter on top and let the packer wheels push it in, but that hardly ever worked so I tried it this way. We have only done it like this twice but it seems to work better. Our ground is a blow sand and it is really tough to get it to grow. So if it works here it should work anywhere.
I haven't planted any for quite a few years, but we have the same kind of ground and we always had the best luck with an endgate seeder or broadcaster and then harrow a bunch. I think the harrow packed the ground and thats why it worked so good.

Best cover crop we ever had work was weeds and not haying it the first year.

Alfalfa likes real firm ground the experts all say.

John Johnson, the pedigree man at so many horse sales, used to be our banker and told of when he was a little boy and his dad had the ground ready to seed and it went to raining. To wet for tractors so he had the boys ride two to a horse, one in front steering and the other in back with a hand broadcaster. He said the horse tracks all came up first and you could tell where they rode. Claimed that they got a good stand.

Seems like rain really improves the chances of a good crop of alfalfa, on the first year! :lol:
Way up here we plant 7lbs alfalfa, 4lbs smooth brome, 1lb timothy. All mixed together in the big hopper with 3 bushels oats.
Tim, What do you use to seed it with? If you can get your hands on a good set of hoe press drills they work great for sowing straight alfalfa. What I always do is sow a bushel and a half of barley forst then sow the straight alfalfa over it. Works real good!! We have both heavy land and lighter soil in this area.
My mixture is 13#s of alfalfa 3#s orchard grass 4#s bar fescue and 2 bushels of oats. the mixture is mixed with the fertilizer and blown on the field with a boom sprayer then we pack it with a roller. the soil is clay based it also needed 6 ton of lime per acre which was applied last fall and tilled in.
The very best in our area is burndown with glysophate then plant alf.with no nurse.Alf.needs to lay on solid ground so don't disturb the soil.If the ground has been worked,run packer wheels ahead of the feeder tubes and cover as little as possible.
on our production fields we plant 20 lbs per acre after we land plane and harrow the tar out of it. you can NEVER harrow too much on alfalfa. we always spring plant, but this year I am going in after the wheat is cut on one field, watched my neighbor do it last year, best stand I have ever seen.
M_R, All I have to seed with is an old set of IH #100 disc/press drills. I mix the alfalfa with the oats right in the seed boxes. A set of hoe drills has been on my wish list for a few years now.
I'd like to be able to "harrow the tar" out of it as someone said, but this land is VERY prone to wind erosion and I'm scared to pulverize it too much.
I used to think that glyphosate burn-off was too expensive, as opposed to tillage, but now that fuel prices have doubled in the last few years I'm re-thinking that one!!! Especially if you can get away with the 1/2 litre rate....
Thanks for all the tips. It's raining here so maybe I'll luck out and get a good stand this year.
Tim:"I mix the alfalfa with the oats right in the seed boxes."

Every time I have ever mixed seed of two different sizes in the hopper the small seed work their way to the bottom and come out first. Leaving the bigger seeds on top. It ended up with a field looking like half was planted in one or the other.

Just a thought. Where you been lately?
Mike- "Every time I have ever mixed seed of two different sizes in the hopper the small seed work their way to the bottom and come out first. Leaving the bigger seeds on top. It ended up with a field looking like half was planted in one or the other. "

Mike, I know what you mean but I don't have a grass atttachment on my drills so I don't have any other choice. I stop every once in a while and remix the seed, just by hand. It's low-tech but it does help with it segregating. I also keep my ground speed down a little which stops the drills from bouncing around and shaking the small seeds down too much.

"Where you been lately?"

I been busy,busy ,busy lately!!! Putting crop in, had to put a new clutch in a tractor, fencing, still got 8 stragglers that haven't calved yet....the usual spingtime stuff!! :lol: :lol:
My husband usually seeds a cover crop, and then blows the alfalfa on top, and then harrows it. And then prays for rain! Last year he tried an experiment on one field. He seeded it with his air drill and no companion crop. Best catch he ever got!
We have best luck establishing alfalfa with canola. Mix them both together and seed with an old press drill with a grass seed attachment. For us, 5#/acre is plenty.

Good luck!
We blend 12 lbs of alfalfa, 2lbs red clover, and 2lbs timothy, with our fertilizer and apply with an air flow floater with 90 ft. boom. Then we go over it with a mulcher(roller) which packs it in about 1/2 inch. Have had excellent luck because of the even pattern the air flow floater leaves. We go over it at 1/2 th rate and then go back over it to get the full rate. Have had excellent luck on sandy loam soil here. Timothy may be a little uneven at times but worked well.
we dont use a cover crop... on the river bottom that we farm its pretty sandy. after getting our land right (disking, vibrashanking, cultipackerand roller) we run a cultipactor across the same day as planting alfalfa... on the 3 point of the planting tractor... we have a peice of angle iron 4 inch. packing the ground even more, we are using a no till to drill alfalfa... always have always will..... we have 2700 acres of alfalfa
A few years ago, guys around here were spraying Roundup, I think, and then seeding alfalfa with a no-till drill. Said they got real good stands. But most farm the ground first, as the land is so rough from pocket gopher/moles. Them little creatures are one of the reasons I quit haying.
its dry land....... we live on the washita river in oklahoma and you pretty mush can not irragate off of it b/c of all the salt water polution and b/c of all the seeds that float down the river. i wish we had a center pivot like the boys from up north but its really not feasible with a normal year of rainfall....
wishing for center pivots is like going to the dentist and begging for a root canal.

granted, the pivots are nice, they save time water and prevent erosion, but walk half a mile through 7 foot tall corn in late August and see just how great a pivot is.

three years ago we got one stuck, it ws 104 that day, and the two of us were out trying to get it back in line.....it ws so hot and muggy in there, when I climbed up the tower to see if I was in line, the "cool" 104 heat hit me and gave me goose bumps!

all that bitching being done, we just put up another one this past week......
yes, I am a glutton for punishment.

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