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Growing Alfalfa Hay

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Would Lespedeza do well in your area since the soil tends to be somewhat acidic?

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Lespedeza doesn't grow well this far north. Alfalfa grows just fine, but does require some sweetening of the soil.


Johnson, I am very open to logic and hard data, but I am very frustrated by people who ask a question, don't give enough information to answer it accurately, and then snipe about the answers they are given. It happens over and over, and unfortunately I snapped at you about it. You'll also notice that if you look at the "hard data" you offered, it actually supports a great deal of what I have written. Plus, if you look back at some of the exchange here, I have prefaced nearly every statement I have made about alfalfa production with "here in New England." OF COURSE it's different where you are, and that's one of the reasons that at least one other poster and I asked you where you are over and over again -- which is apparently a secure undisclosed location somewhere in New Mexico.


If you'll also look back, you'll find that I said that 9 tons per acre off a planting of alfalfa, was ambitious even if your climate allowed for six cuttings per year. I noted with some interest in the article that you linked to the alfalfa was cut six times per year, and that it was given the most aggressive treatment in terms of quantity, method, and frequency of irrigation. In your initial post, you said you assumed the 9 tons was coming from three cuttings. By actually reading the document that you cited, I learned that it was from six cuttings. The first footnote lists the dates of the cuttings. There are very few places in the US where the growing season is long enough and cool enough to grow alfalfa that way, and if you had told me that you were in the high desert in New Mexico using flood irrigation every 14 days and taking six cuts per year, I might have understood what you were talking about a little better. You'll also notice that in the trials where irrigation protocols other than flood irrigation every 14 days were employed, yields were substantially lower, and more in line with my experience of unirrigated alfalfa in high rainfall area with a short growing season with three or four cuts per year.


As to the purpose of the tap root in alfalfa, I think you'd probably find that most agronomists will tell you that alfalfa under flood irrigation (which was the system used in the data you site) will not grow a very deep tap root. It has no need to. Every 14 days it gets a big dump of water on the surface. Here in New England (note those words well, my friend) where we sometimes have aquifers less than 10 feet below the surface and don't use irrigation on alfalfa as a rule, it will use its tap root to forage for water and other nutrients. The time when surface water and topsoil pH are crucial is in the first year or two while the plant develops that tap root.


One of the reasons I am such a big fan of the stuff is that very fact -- it creates very deep channels into the soil and brings up minerals that benefit other plants and animals that can't reach them on their own. There is no better way of breaking up a plow pan in a tillable field than to plant alfalfa on it, and there is no forage that will support milk production in a lactating ruminant as well. A multiple win.


My comments about the weather this summer -- continuous rain and little sun -- are because it is so unusual. We usually have a shower or rain storm every few days with sun and fairly humid conditions in between, but this summer has been very dark and rainy. Alfalfa is growing like crazy, so apparently we are getting enough light to support photosynthesis.


Not that you're inclined to take any advice from me, but I would say to throw away that hardware store soil tester, learn how to take a proper soil sample, and send it off to a lab for analysis.

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Just thought I would add this info to the topic for anyone who might find it of interest.


Alfalfa is a plant of the pea family it one of the most versatile and nutritious food available. It was named al-falfa, "father of plants," by the Arabs, They were among the first to recognize its marvelous properties. Alfalfa is commonly added to other herbs for its nutritive qualities. It is also used as a commercial source of chlorophyll. It is highly alkaline, thus making it effective in the treatment of acid related disorder.



Internally, alfalfa must be used in fresh, raw form in order to provide essential nutrients which alfalfa is full of. Every vitamin and major mineral is in alfalfa, with the exception of vitamin D. Alfalfa aids in the assimilation of protein, fats and carbohydrates and is an excellent blood purifier. It can be added to soups and salads and concentrates of alfalfa leaves is also used as a main ingredient in many high quality mineral supplements. Eight alfalfa tablets, taken at mealtime (preferably chewed before swallowing) provide a fiber bulk which greatly aids in maintaining bowel regularity.



Nutrients in Alfalfa: Alfalfa leaves contain saponins, phytoestrogen and antioxidant. It also contain Vitamins; A, B complex, C, E, K, U, Biotin, Inositol and Minerals; calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, sulfides and choline



Alfalfa is Beneficial in these Illnesses:


Alfalfa detoxifies the body and alkalinizes it.

Alfalfa is good for disorders of the skin.

It acts as a diuretic.

It balances hormones

Help in the treatment of Arthritis

Help reduce blood cholesterol

Help reduce blood glucose

Help reduce plaque in the arteries that can help prevent heart disease.

Alfalfa can increase the ability of blood to clot after injury; therefore alfalfa should not be used while taking aspirin or anti-clotting medication.

Helps in the treatment of peptic ulcers.

Helps in digestion

Helps the body fights off infection

Helps in constipation, hemorrhoids and gastritis

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