Sunday, July 1, 2012

Alfalfa Deserves a Long Weekend

It is the weekend when we celebrate the birth of our country and most people get an extra day off from their respective workplace.
If there is such a thing as a crop deserving a day or two of rest it should be granted to the alfalfa crop. If you ask your dairy neighbour how his hay crop has been you will hear one of the two following resopnses.
 "It has been ok" which means he does not want you to know how bad it is.
"It has been awful" which means he is telling the truth.

This crop has been through a lot and the situation is getting worse.
First, the plant had to recover from the frosts in April.  This recovery process drained precious root reserves.  I blogged about the effect of frost on the alfalfa back on May 6.
Second, 2011 harvest management has a huge impact on root reserve levels.  The crop needs a period of rest and replenish root reserves before winter sets in.   If root reserves are high going into the winter, the plant will perform better in the face of adversity. This is the main reason why some fields are fairing better than others.
Third, alfalfa weevil were very active during May and into June.  The leaf area destroyed by the weevil is like loosing part of an assembly line in a factory.  Production drops, efficiency suffers and sometimes workers are laid off.  The lack of production from the above ground part of the plant prevents root reserves from being restored to healthier levels.
Fouth is potato leaf hopper.  Populations are building and this pest sucks sugars from the stems and leaves.  
Last, is the continuing dry weather. Enough said.

This weekend, while you give praise to the best country in the world, say a prayer for the alfalfa crop.

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