The best way to the best alfalfa hay

The best way to the best alfalfa hay

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Optimizing Hay Production: Insights from Experienced Ranchers

In the dynamic world of farming and ranching, navigating the challenges of hay production requires a combination of expertise and adaptability. Moisture, weevils, aphids, gophers, and winter conditions are just a few of the uncontrollable factors that impact the process. However, seasoned farmers like DGH B2B FARM have learned to manage what they can and adapt to the rest.

Established in more than a decade ago, DGH B2B  has a rich history in raising alfalfa, particularly in the irrigated Sandhills ground north of SOUTH AFRICA. Originally catering to dairies and feedlots, the ranch has evolved its hay production strategy to become more versatile and resilient. Today, they grow a predominantly irrigated alfalfa-grass mix, providing hay for their own livestock or selling round bales locally to other cow-calf producers.

The inclusion of grass varieties such as elephant grass, orchardgrass, and festulolium has significantly enhanced the efficiency of hay production. DGH B2B emphasizes the benefits, stating that the grass-alfalfa mixture allows for easier baling during daylight hours, faster curing, and increased energy for livestock, especially in colder weather. While this shift may mean losing the market for feedlots and dairies, the advantages for cow-calf or backgrounding operations make it a worthwhile trade-off.

Key to a successful hay crop is starting with high-quality seed suitable for the local climate. DGH FARM recommends Tug-Of-War Seeds’ grass-alfalfa mix, citing impressive hay test results with 22 percent crude protein and an RFV of 200, even in sandy soil. Despite inevitable challenges like pests and diseases, DGH believes in addressing issues promptly and acknowledges that occasional setbacks may necessitate starting over.

DGH FARM, a hay producer near Newell, South Dakota, with over 50 years of experience, shares valuable insights into alfalfa production. Emphasizing the role of Mother Nature, Seaman stresses the importance of fertilization in establishing and maintaining healthy alfalfa stands. A firm seedbed, proper seed choice (certified hybrid multi-leaf alfalfa varieties), and heavy seeding under irrigation are crucial elements in ensuring a robust stand.

DGH FARM advocates for soil testing and regular fertilization to promote the health and longevity of alfalfa stands. He advises against cutting a fourth harvest, allowing the alfalfa to bloom at least once during the yearly cycle. Careful consideration of when to graze, avoidance of wet conditions, and strategic pest management, particularly for weevils, further contribute to successful alfalfa production.

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In conclusion, the experiences of DGH FARM offer valuable insights for optimizing hay production. Their strategies, encompassing the use of grass-alfalfa mixtures, high-quality seeds, and diligent management practices, showcase a commitment to adaptability and sustainability in the ever-changing landscape of farming and ranching.

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