When Do I Cut? Predicting Pre-Harvest Alfalfa Quality
Determining when to cut first-crop alfalfa is often difficult because alfalfa quality, relative to flowering stage, varies greatly. To help with this dilemma, agronomists at the University of Wisconsin – Madison developed the Predictive Equations for Alfalfa Quality (PEAQ) method which predicts alfalfa’s Relative Feed Value (RFV) at the time of cutting.
The PEAQ method measures standing alfalfa’s forage quality before it is harvested by measuring alfalfa height using a wooden PEAQ measuring stick and an equation to determine alfalfa’s RFV. The RFV values are calculated based on the alfalfa plant’s maturity stage.
Dodge County Forage Council members will be evaluating forage conditions by collecting biweekly PEAQ readings and scissor clip forage analysis on Mondays and Thursdays starting May 16 until June 2 or as long as their alfalfa is standing. These PEAQ readings will be reported and available on the Extension Dodge County website and Facebook page, along with the Dodge County Forage Council Facebook page.
Additionally, we encourage any area farmers growing alfalfa to report their PEAQ readings. These results are posted anonymously and help to strengthen our data collection. We ask that all readings be reported by noon on Mondays and Thursdays by calling the Extension office at 920-386-3790. Each additional reading reported will allow for a more precise review of the forage conditions and alfalfa development in Dodge County.
Those reporting are asked to provide a general location of the field (closest town), the relative feed value, alfalfa height, alfalfa stage of development, and age of alfalfa stand. The complete procedure for Estimating Alfalfa RFV in the Field Using PEAQ can be found online on the UW Extension Team Forage Website at http://fyi.uwex.edu/forage/files/2014/01/PEAQTable.pdf.
Producers can access current Dodge County PEAQ readings at the Extension Dodge County website at https://dodge.extension.wisc.edu/agriculture/forage-council/ Please connect with us on Facebook or call 920-386-3790.
The Dodge County Forage Council and UW-Madison Division of Extension Dodge County is dedicated to the production of higher quality forage through education and application.