The results are in for the third year of the Wisconsin Alfalfa Yield and Persistence Program, and while agronomists say the findings are not conclusive based on only three years of data, they do think there are some trends worth noting.
First and foremost, these experts question the taking of a fifth alfalfa cutting during October. This was practiced on five fields in the study, and yields ranged from 0.34 to 0.88 tons per acre, with an average of 0.58 tons per acre.
Research also indicates that first-cutting yields the following year were reduced by about as much as this last cutting. This was due to reduced plant vigor, and in extreme cases, plant death from winterkill.
Therefore, given the cost of harvesting such a small yield, and the potential to reduce future yields, the specialists suggest that the “need for feed” may justify this practice is some years, but it is not likely a sustainable or profitable idea.