Drought conditions last year and freeze/thaw cycles this spring damaged lots of alfalfa stands, says Justin Fruechte, forage and cover crop specialist with Millborn Seeds.
"Winterkill has either wiped out entire alfalfa stands or left them quite sparse," he says.
For sparse alfalfa stands that growers plan to cut for haylage, Fruechte recommends interseeding the stand with Italian ryegrass.
A cool season annual, Italian ryegrass is easy to establish and, like alfalfa, it is highly digestible with excellent levels of crude protein. Italian ryegrass also regrows quickly for multiple cuttings, he says.
"Italian is an excellent option that will thicken up the stand and allows for multiple cuttings," Fruechte says.
If wet conditions prevent growers from interseeding this spring, another option Fruechte suggests is the warm season annual, Teff grass.
Growers can interseed Teff grass in early June, once the soil temperatures reach at least 60 degrees. A fine-stemmed grass, Teff is highly digestible and is a quick regrowth, forage hay option.
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