Extending Irrigated Alfalfa Stand Life and Long-Term Profitability by Alteration of Late-Season Harvest Schedules

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2002: $61,270.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $23,046.00
Region: Western
State: Colorado
Principal Investigator:
Robert Hammon
Tri River Cooperative Extension

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: general hay and forage crops


  • Animal Production: preventive practices
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, on-farm/ranch research
  • Pest Management: cultural control, genetic resistance
  • Production Systems: general crop production


    This research project found that delaying the final alfalfa cutting until growth ceases increases subsequent first-cutting yield in a four-cutting, but not three-cutting system. First-cutting growth was impacted by cutting schedule and alfalfa varieties in the four-cutting system. In the three-cutting system, yield was influenced only by variety. Modification of late-season cutting schedule will not be beneficial if the final cutting is not utilized. However, if a non-traditional use is developed, alteration of cutting schedule can increase profits. The experiments will be continued to determine the effect of late-season harvest management on long-term stand life.

    Project objectives:

    Research Objectives:
    1) Determine if modification of present late-season alfalfa harvest practices will affect stand persistence.
    2) Determine relationships and interactions between late-season harvest management practices and alfalfa varieties on non-structural carbohydrates, alfalfa stem nematodes, and root and crown rot diseases of alfalfa.
    3) Conduct an economic analysis of traditional and modified late-season harvest practices to determine how long-term profitability is affected by management changes.

    Education/Outreach Objectives:
    1) Demonstrate to growers the effectiveness and economics of modification of late-season harvest management practices in maintaining alfalfa stands.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.