Timing First Crop Harvest of Alfalfa with PEAQ

Timing first crop alfalfa harvest by calendar date does not work well. Spring climates vary from year to year, and fields managed differently also affects spring regrowth. Different varieties, age of stand, fertility, last season’s cutting schedules, fall harvest or not, can all influence the rate of regrowth in spring. PEAQ, which stands for predictive equation for alfalfa quality, is a quick and easy method to use to assess when individual alfalfa fields are ready for harvest based on a forage quality estimate. All you need is a yard stick and Table 1 in ISU Extension publication CROP 3141, which is available from your county ISU Extension office or download at: https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/15234

 

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Alfalfa Update

Extension Field Agronomist Joel DeJong reports “I am not certain we have a good window of opportunity for harvesting alfalfa soon, but I hope so”. He was out in a couple of alfalfa fields near Le Mars yesterday (Wednesday), and the stems measured  25” tall, and were in the bud stage.  That would give it a RFV today of 176. In review, making haylage reduces the final RFV by 15 units, or making dry hay would cost about 25 RFV units.  It is generally recommended to harvest alfalfa at about 150 RFV for milking dairy herds and 125 RFV for heifers, stocker cattle and lactating beef cattle. Find more information about the PEAQ quality assessment model found here. While out there, he noticed low levels of alfalfa weevils feeding on the leaves. Scouting detail, thresholds, pictures and more can be found in this ISU ICM article titled “Alfalfa Weevils Active in Northern Iowa.”

PEAQ Evaluations Aid Producers In Putting Up Quality Alfalfa

Predictive Equations of Alfalfa Quality (PEAQ) provides an estimate of the  Relative Feed Value (RFV), for the first cutting alfalfa standing in the field. Climatic variations impact alfalfa growth and development making it impossible to use a calendar date each spring to best determine when to harvest the first crop. The PEAQ method uses alfalfa stand height and maturity stage to estimate the RFV. It is most appropriate for good stands of pure alfalfa with healthy growth.

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PEAQ Evaluations Aid Producers In Putting Up Quality Hay

Predictive Equations of Alfalfa Quality (PEAQ) provides an estimate of the quality, measured as Relative Feed Value (RFV), for the first cutting alfalfa standing in the field. Climatic variations impact alfalfa growth and development making it impossible to use a calendar date each spring to best determine when to harvest the first crop. The PEAQ method uses alfalfa stand height and maturity stage to estimate the RFV. It is most appropriate for good stands of pure alfalfa with healthy growth.

Continue reading “PEAQ Evaluations Aid Producers In Putting Up Quality Hay”