As spring approaches, some farmers may be asking about the survival of the alfalfa. It is important to check early for winterkill and for plant injury so that appropriate decisions can be made.
Dr. Dan Undersander, forage agronomist from the University of Wisconsin, claims that it is really a 2 step process.
First, you want to check the tops of the plant to see how many shoots are emerging from the crown, check to see if the crown is heaved or broken and check the symmetry of the shoots. If some are greening up but only on 1 side of the crown then some damage has been done.
The second step is to check the roots. Dig a few crowns out of the ground, examine them and cut them open lengthwise. They should be white or cream coloured and firm. Any brown inside the root or softness of the root is the start of rotting. It may survive a little longer but yield may suffer.
An assessment can be made based on the health of the shoots, crowns and roots. A stem count will help with that decision.