Alfalfa weevil numbers are higher than normal. Areas that typically see a lot of weevils in the alfalfa are reporting numbers that need to be monitored as the second cutting starts to grow back. After harvest, check stubble and regrowth for signs of weevil feeding. If 50 percent of regrowth shows signs of weevil feeding, larvae are <3/8 inch long, and there are few or no weevil cocoons, the field may need to be treated with an insecticide.
Last fall’s management of alfalfa and grass had a large effect on stands this spring. If a farm took a late (October) cutting from their grass or alfalfa stands, they likely paid for it this spring. Although not limited to late cut fields, there was a lot of winter kill of alfalfa (root rot and heaving) which was exacerbated by aggressive cutting in the fall. Alfalfa builds carbohydrate root reserves in the fall. A cutting between mid-September and early October allows the alfalfa to start regrowing, sapping energy from the root. It is better to leave that last cutting or wait until after a frost so that alfalfa doesn’t start to regrow.
Late fall cut and poorly fertilized grass fields are lacking in density. October is an essential time for grass. It initiates the growth of new tillers for the following year. If a stand was not growing actively in the fall because a late cutting was taken or it was under-fertilized (especially with Potash), we can see it this spring.
A lot of farmers have been disappointed with their hay fields, especially when they compare them to what corn silage will yield. Taking care of stands correctly in the fall will help tremendously.