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University of Minnesota Extension

Growing forages

You can better manage your farm’s legumes by understanding how alfalfa and other legumes grow and adopting proven strategies to handle winter injury. 

Life cycles of legumes

Forage legumes vary in terms of their life cycle, the amount of nitrogen they can fix, how well they can adapt to challenging conditions and their susceptibility to insect damage and diseases.

By understanding the characteristics of forage legumes, you can better identify, use and manage them on your farm.

Nutrient management

Fertilizer recommendations for forage grasses and legumes

Nutrient guidelines for alfalfa, grasses for hay and pasture, grass-legume mixes, and other legumes. Includes link to alfalfa fertilizer recommendation calculator. 

Crop and weather damage


Alfalfa during drought

Learn about alfalfa's water use, its tolerance to drought and drought effects on establishment and existing stands.

Winter injury of alfalfa

Many factors can contribute to winter damage of an alfalfa stand. All are important to consider when making spring assessments, and managing injured stands.

Alfalfa winter injury: Weather and management effects includes

  • Factors that affect alfalfa's ability to overwinter
  • Management practices that reduce the risk of winter injury
  • Winter injury risk calculator

Winter injury of alfalfa: Strategies for livestock producers includes

  • How to assess the damage
  • How to determine your forage needs
  • Options if you're short on inventory
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