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University of Minnesota Extension

Alfalfa Harvest Alert Winding Down


FOLEY, Minn. (05/31/2023) — May 15 was a turning point in the future first-cutting crop of alfalfa in Central Minnesota. It was also the initial sampling date that began a frenzied race to the finish line for a team of extension educators, and agribusiness consultants taking samples from the field twice a week. 

The goal of the project is to alert alfalfa growers with data to start first crop harvest when the crop is at a quality benchmark that matches animal nutrition goals and without sacrificing potential yield.  Fresh cut samples of alfalfa are collected on a regular basis from when the height of the stand reaches between 14 and 16 inches tall on through harvest.  These samples are submitted to our lab partner, Dairyland lab, to analyze according to standard forage quality parameters. Quality and maturity are also estimated through an equation called the “Predictive Equation for Alfalfa Quality” (PEAQ).  This process uses the stage of maturity and height of the tallest stems to estimate relative forage value (RFV).


The alfalfa scissor-cut harvest alert program is not a prescription for any particular harvest date but can be a decision tool for those forage producers that are busy managing other crops in the rotation.


The following are the most recent results sampled May 22nd:


Nicollet County – Annexstad Dairy near Norseland;

Height = 23.95 inches, PEAQ = 188.4, RFQ = 224.52 RFV = 203.79, CP=24.67

Sibley County – Dieball Dairy near Green Isle;

Height = 25.1 inches PEAQ = 184.6, RFQ = 229.76, RFV=207.03 CP = 23.99

(This field was harvested May 23)

Carver County – Dreier Farm near Norwood;

Height = 27 inches, PEAQ =165 , RFQ =212.44, RFV= 182.03, CP = 23.62 

(This field was harvested May 22)

McLeod County – Krienke near Lester Prairie;

Height = 26 inches, PEAQ = 180, RFQ = 265, RFV=215 CP =26.0

Wright County – Poppler near Howard Lake;

Height=24 inches, PEAQ = 200, RFQ = 267, RFV = 220, CP=25.27

(This field was harvested May 24)


The following are the most recent results sampled May 24th:


McLeod County – Kurthkine Dairy near Buffalo Lake;

Height = 21.65 inches, PEAQ = 203, RFQ = 180, RFV=175, CP=21.93

(This field was harvested May 24)

Wright County – Krause near Buffalo;

Height = 29.15, PEAQ = 166, RFQ = 225, RFV=208, CP =25.42

(This field was harvested May 24)

The following are the most recent results sampled May 25th:

Stearns County – Maus near Freeport;

Height = 24 inches, PEAQ = 182, RFQ = 176.66, RFV=158.06 CP=26.22

Stearns County – Frericks near Melrose;

Height = 25 inches, PEAQ =155.38, RFQ = 159.87, RFV = 155.38, CP=20.98

Stearns County – Gathje near Eden Valley;

Height = 24.5, PEAQ = 187.5, RFQ = 199.76, RFV = 190.83, CP = 25.3

Benton County – Skapanski near Sauk Rapids;

Height = 27.14 inches, PEAQ=167.43, RFQ=223.4, RFV=200.96, CP=24.05

(This field was harvested May 25)

Benton County – Skroch near Rice;

Height = 21.43 inches, PEAQ=193.14, RFQ=204.61, RFV=209.43, CP=19.49

(This field was harvested May 25)

Benton County – O&S Dairy near Rice;

Height = 25.17 inches, PEAQ=175.67, RFQ=207.34, RFV=197.46, CP=23.54

(This field was harvested May 27)

Morrison County – Kahl near Buckman;

Height = 25.67 inches, PEAQ=173.5, RFQ=222.02, RFV=209.52, CP=23.49

(This field was harvested May 29)

Morrison County – Roerick near Upsala;

Height = 24 inches, PEAQ=190, RFQ=233.84, RFV=199.4, CP = 26.05


You can find more detailed reports at the UMN Extension Website by searching for “Minnesota Extension Crop News”, or by calling (320) 968-5081 if you are in Stearns, Benton, Sherburne or Morrison counties. If you are outside that area call Extension Colleagues Colleen Carlson in Scott and Carver Counties, Taylor Herbert or Karen Johnson in Wright, Meeker and McLeod Counties. You can see up-to-date alfalfa scissor-cut data at z.umn.edu/AlfalfaHarvestAlert.


Tyler Rice, Extension Educator-Crops

University of Minnesota Extension

Stearns, Benton, Morrison & Sherburne Counties

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