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Checking alfalfa for winter injury

Evaluate your alfalfa stands early this spring to check for winter injury.

By Bruce Anderson, Nebraska Extension forage specialist

Alfalfa usually comes through the winter in pretty good shape in our area, so rarely do I worry much about it. And I hope we will avoid serious losses this year.

But this has been an unusual winter. The lack of snow cover during cold temperatures this winter could have permitted cold injury. Or more likely, it enabled dry winter winds to dry out and kill some exposed plants. Then high temperatures in February and early March caused much alfalfa to break dormancy early; recent cold set it back.

Evaluate your own stands early this spring. Older, dryland fields that have fewer than 30 new shoots per square foot coming from two or three plants may need to be rotated soon to a different crop and new fields planted to alfalfa.

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