The popularity of farming enterprises resembles women's fashions. It might be the in-thing to grow fescue for pasture, hay and seed, then someone decides it's more profitable to go to wheat, corn, soybeans, Bermuda grass, ryegrass or turnips.
Sometimes it is hard to keep up with what is the "in thing" says Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
"The good news is that year-in and year-out, one crop that consistently performs well on many farms in southwest Missouri is alfalfa," said Cole. "When you develop a pro and con list for your farm, maybe there are better options than alfalfa, but at least consider it."
Alfalfa is often called the queen of forages because of its high quality. In most parts of the country it's a staple for any dairy. High-dollar horse breeders generally like alfalfa hay.
"In this part of Missouri alfalfa hay or pasture complements fescue extremely well. Its high protein content minimizes the purchase of high dollar protein supplements," said Cole.
For example, the 16 alfalfa entries in the 2012 Ozark Empire Fairy Hay Show had an average crude protein level of 20.3 percent. The total digestible nutrients (TDN) value was 66.9 percent and the relative feed value (RFV) was 182.
"This high quality aids beef producers, both cow-calf and stocker programs," said Cole.