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University of Minnesota Extension

Alfalfa Scissor-cut and PEAQ Alert Project Moving Forward

Source: Tyler Rice, Extension Educator, Crops - Stearns, Benton, Morrison, and Sherburne Counties

A cooperative effort, dubbed the Alfalfa Scissor-cut and PEAQ stick Project, has a long history in Central Minnesota of helping farmers manage first cutting alfalfa harvests.  The main goal of the project is to encourage timely alfalfa harvests to balance the intersection of greatest Relative Feed Value (hereafter referred to as RFV) and maximum dry matter yield.  In partnership with the Central Minnesota Forage Council and regional agribusiness, Extension staff, cooperating farmers and others will be collecting alfalfa samples twice-weekly beginning mid-May through first cutting.  To date, arrangements have been made to collect samples and report resulting forage quality analyses for multiple locations in six counties.  These include Benton, Carver, McLeod, Morrison, Stearns, and Wright Counties. 

The very first samples will be taken when the alfalfa is approximately 16 inches tall.  Samples will be taken on Mondays and Thursdays until the field is harvested.  

Information will also be shared by radio and website blog updates.

Harvesting alfalfa and other forage crops to meet quality benchmarks is important for developing rations that support efficient milk production in dairy cows and is also beneficial for efficiencies in other livestock production. Forage growers, agronomy advisors and animal nutritionists can use several tools and strategies for gauging the growth and maturity of the alfalfa crop for harvest decisions. Predictive Equation for Alfalfa Quality (hereafter referred to as PEAQ) was developed at University of Wisconsin as a tool to estimate RFV or relative feed quality (RFQ) based on height and maturity stages (vegetative, bud and blossom stages).  PEAQ sticks can be sourced through the Central Minnesota Forage Council. A documented history of experiences are useful benchmarks on which to make adjustments. Learn more about using alfalfa scissor cut sampling or PEAQ readings.  There are articles for using these tools with alfalfa and with alfalfa grass mix crops as well as a link to the Minnesota Crop News site. 

To learn more about the project or for help in interpreting results feel free to contact: 

Tyler Rice, Extension Educator for Crops in Stearns, Benton, Morrison and Sherburne counties at (320)-968-5081 or rice0416@umn.edu

Taylor Herbert, Extension Educator for Crops in Wright, McLeod and Meeker counties at (612)-394-5229 or therbert@umn.edu.


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