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.

Stems per square foot                          % Maximum yield
55                                                                             100
40-50                                                                      75-92
less than 40                                                     too weak to keep


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  1. lou pouwels says:

    I enjoy your website!
    I recently purchased an 18 hd 2200 lb Belgian gelding
    He is 12 years old
    In your opinion, how much hay and water should he, on average, have every day.
    Also, should he have an additional supplement food?
    Thank you
    Lou Pouwels

    • Melanie says:

      Hello Lou:
      Thank you for your interest in our website and for contacting us with your questions.
      Congratulations on your recent purchase! We would be happy to provide dietary info for your new horse.
      As for water requirements, keep clean water available free choice at all times. If the hay is of good quality (not dusty and there are no signs of visible mold), feed ~18 – 22 kgs.of hay per day.
      To supplement your horse that is on an exclusive forage diet, we suggest adding Shur-Gain’s ‘Accelerator Plus Ration Balancer’ to the diet at a rate of 1.2 – 1.4 kg. per day. This ration is designed to provide the essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids that are commonly deficient in grass or mixed forage diets. It is also an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids and organic minerals for your horse’s optimum health. This pelleted feed is available in 25 kg. bags and we stock this product in our warehouse.
      If you would like any further information regarding your horse’s health and care, please don’t hesitate to contact us again.
      Have a great day!

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