Handling Young Alfalfa

I have alfalfa that is doing very well for the first year. My soil is

sandy loam with light traces of white alkali, although it does not seem

to be detrimental to the growth thus far. I am in the dairy business and

will have by winter enough manure to top-dress the field. Would it be

good policy to use the manure, or would it be more satisfactory to

top-dress with gypsum? Would it injure alfalfa to pasture lightly after

the last cutting?

Presumably your soil contains enough lime, and therefore the application

of gypsum at this time of the year would not be necessary. It may be

desirable to top-dress with gypsum near the end of the rainy season to

stimulate the growth of the plant. Gypsum, however, has no effect upon

white alkali. So far as alkali goes, gypsum merely changes black alkali

into white, thus making it less corrosive.

There would be no objection to pasturing lightly this fall. Be careful,

however, to keep off the stock while the land is wet and not to

overstock so as to injure root crowns by tramping. The manure can be

used as a top dressing during the rainy season, unless you think it

better to save it for the growth of other crops. Alfalfa is so deep

rooting where conditions are favorable that it does not require

fertilization usually on land which has been used for a long time for

grain or other shallow-rooting plants.

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