Matt Hubsch, lead agronomist with Legend Seeds, De Smet, S.D., has a three drought-year fall crop and alfalfa management tips:
1) Soil sampling can help you cut fertilizer expenses next spring. "During a drought, plants are unable to utilize nitrogen and other nutrients in the soil profile, making residual nitrates available to the 2013 crop. Find out, this fall, how much nitrogen will be left behind for next spring."
2) Leave corn in the field. If the corn in the field is too damaged by drought to yield grain and chopping it for silage isn't an option, consider leaving it in the field instead of grazing it or haying it for livestock feed. "The risk of nitrate poisoning is very real. While ensiling reduces nitrate levels, often making it safe for livestock consumption, corn left in the field or cut for hay may have toxic levels of nitrates."
Before making either of these decisions, test the corn for nitrates.If rates are too high to safely feed, consider leaving the corn in the field allowing the nutrients in the plant to return to the soil to feed next year's crop.
3) Resist the temptation to take a late season cutting of alfalfa. "Cutting alfalfa within 30 days of the traditional killing frost date will dramatically lower the plant's ability to survive winter conditions. The plant depends on the late-season regrowth for winter carbohydrate and nutrient stores."
Source: Legend Seeds