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

    Proposal abstract:

    Late-season alfalfa cutting schedules were compared at ten sites. When the fourth 2002 cutting was skipped, first 2003 yields were 30% greater than in traditionally managed strips. There were no differences in yield when third cutting was skipped in three cutting systems. Alfalfa stem nematodes were present one month after planting of new alfalfa fields, but damage was minimal during the first year of growth. Varieties with dormancy ratings of 4 or 6 had greater yield than those with a 2 rating. Varieties with multiple pest resistance yielded greater than those without in the first year of the study.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    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.