The Time To Cut Alfalfa

What is the best period to cut alfalfa hay for cow feed and the best

method for curing?

The best time to cut alfalfa is just when new shoots are starting out at

the crown. This will give the greatest yield of hay during a season, and

the hay will be much more palatable than if the alfalfa is permitted to

get well into the blossoming period. The leaves, which are the best part

of the hay, also remain on better than if the stems are older. If a

person does not care to take the trouble to find out whether the new

shoots are coming out or not, he can approximate the time to cut fairly

well by waiting until a blossom here and there appears, cutting

immediately. It would be difficult to tell on paper exactly when alfalfa

was properly cured, as that is a matter of individual judgment. It is

usual to cut in the morning and rake into windrows in the afternoon.

With the usual weather in interior California that stage of the curing

is completed by that time. The next day it can be gathered into cocks

and gotten ready to move. That is about all the curing that is done. The

size of the windrows depends upon the amount of hay, as thick hay should

be put up in small windrows to give plenty of circulation of air. It is

considered better also to build the cocks on raked land, otherwise the

hay lying flat at the bottom will not cure properly and cannot be

gathered up clean.

Which Crop of Alfalfa for Seed?

Which cutting of alfalfa should be left for seed bearing?

Which cutting is best for seed depends, of course, on the way the plant

grows in your locality. Where it starts early and gives many cuttings in

a season with irrigation a later growth should be chosen for seed than

with a short season where fewer cuttings can be had. The second cutting

is best in many places, but O. E. Lambert of Modesto after threshing

about 30 lots in one year tells us that some growers had left second,

some third and some fourth cuttings for seed. He found the second

cutting very poor both in yield and grade, much of it not being well

filled and the seed blighted, as the growth of hay was too heavy. The

seed on third cutting was good both in grade and yield. Much of the seed

on fourth cutting was not matured. For good results the stand should be

thin. Our drier, heavier lands give the best results, sub-irrigated

lands not seeding. All irrigation should stop with the previous cutting

for hay.

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