Any Alfalfa experts out there?

Discussion in 'Deer Management, Habitat & Conservation' started by deep woods goat hunter, May 19, 2017.

  1. I have a bunch of alfalfa seed that was given to me....

    Deer love it right?

    When do you plant and how? similar to clover im guessing?
  2. trapperBR549

    trapperBR549 New Member

    May 17, 2007
    I'm certainly no expert but deer do love it and free is good. Only time I planted it I disced in the fall and broadcast it. Came up good and was a pretty decent stand for a couple years.

  3. how tall did it get that fall? did they use it that fall or not until the following year?
  4. trapperBR549

    trapperBR549 New Member

    May 17, 2007
    It didn't do much until the following year. I planted with wheat if I remember correctly so deer were in it but they were probably eating the wheat.

    If somebody gave me some seed I would plant beans now and spray them as a couple times, then broadcast a cereal grain in the beans this fall and frost seed the alfalfa.
    I believe that would give it the best chance of getting a jump start on the competition and the cereal grain would provide a lot of food fall and winter.
  5. I have about 1.75 acre of beans. I will definitely be broadcasting wheat into it after or during a good rain in the fall. Im looking to do the alfalfa maybe as a buffer around the edge for some diversity as well. I have it so I might as well use it as some point but maybe next year frost seeding is the ticket, or just till and seed in march like I did the clover this spring.
  6. trapperBR549

    trapperBR549 New Member

    May 17, 2007
    What I like about frost seeding into beans is everything in the seedbank that was in the right zone to germinate already did and was killed by the glypho. If you don't till it again which releases a new round of seeds you will be seeding into a relatively weed/grass free seed bed, thus reducing competition for the alfalfa.
  7. Keef

    Keef Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2007
    Clark Co, MO
    I don't think frost seeding will work well with alfalfa. I've grown it on two farms. Usually plant it in early spring or fall. Fall is best.
    A nurse crop of wheat or oats works well. I mow it once it's about a foot tall and mow it down to about 4-6".
    Saw 8 deer the other night in one of my fields. They love it. Use a control cage so a small area is protected from the deer and you can see how much they eat.
    I fertilize with 6-24-24 and it tends to work well.
    A lot of people don't like it because it does require some maintenance, but it's my favorite food plot.
  8. killmode

    killmode Deplorable member

    Your best bet would be to have someone willing to bale it and spray it. It wont live long if it isn't maintained. Better yet would be to have them plant it too if you are going to let them bale it.

    I always planted in fall. Cut for hay before or as soon as it starts blooming and spray at first sight of weevils. You may think haying will be anti-deer but just a few days after its mowed the new growth is taking off .
  9. beanpile

    beanpile just a no body

    what I remember the Golden Harvest Agronomist telling me is that Alfalfa is very pH sensitive..its got to be around 7 ish also needs to be mowed once a year when it gets about a foot tall like Keef said..some have said that it needs to be baled to keep the cuttings off of the cut stuff..also an income source..not sure if that baling part is true or was just an excuse because of laziness.

    I have heard of stands being out for 5-7 years if maintained properly
  10. killmode

    killmode Deplorable member

    Yes... pH needs to be above 6, 6.5 would be better... I'd do a soil text and amend before I spent the time and money trying to establish. Mowing once a year probably wont be enough but the main enemy will be weevils.
  11. Keef

    Keef Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2007
    Clark Co, MO
    I haven't tested my soil PH but I put 3 tons of quarry lime on all of my fields. As for bailing it, my plots are too small to interest anyone so I just mow it. And yes deer will be on it that night.

    Fields will last about 5 years if fertilized and sprayed for weeds. I have two different herbicides I use, one for broadleaf and one for grasses. Neither hurts the alfalfa or clover.
  12. Dafish

    Dafish Senior Member

    Nov 24, 2010
    St. Peters
    Deer do not like it if not mowed/baled every so often as it gets 'woody" .
    They will dig thru the snow to get to it.

    where I hunt when they plant alfalfa in the fall, they plant turnips with them.
  13. oneshot 1

    oneshot 1 Active Member

    Jun 11, 2003
    I'm thinking this too. Cutting and Spraying are important. Your Alfalfa will last for years.

    Thing is with Alfalfa frost will kill it back for the Winter.

    I really like Rye over Wheat for all Winter.

    So I would go with both in two plots.


    :D The Big Grin like Brush Piles.
  14. Im thinking I like the sound of clover much better.... maybe I can trade this off to someone for some clover seed :) Might just tsick with what I know.
    I already have beans, corn and clover in and rocking....
  15. swat1018

    swat1018 Member

    Jan 1, 2013
    If you have good deer numbers, and a small plot, they keep it clipped pretty good, without baling. It does prefer pH over 6.5, and don't plant in wet or swampy areas. Fall plant it with a cereal grain cover crop. I have clover and oats, both have their place.
  16. Keef

    Keef Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2007
    Clark Co, MO
    Swat brings up a good point, alfalfa doesn't like wet areas. Best to plant on ridgetops that are well drained. Save the damp spots for clover, that's what I did. Planted in the right places both do well. I prefer Ladino clover, but there are a lot of good choices to select from. Ladino will last about 3-5 years if you control the weeds.