When is the best time to harvest alfalfa? The goal, says Geoff Brink, research agronomist at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, should be to harvest alfalfa at the point where it meets the nutrient requirements of the animals you are feeding.       

In addition, he offers these guidelines:

  • Harvesting alfalfa within 10 days after vegetative state in the spring and early summer provides optimum milk production and dairy-quality hay.
  • Under non-irrigated conditions, forage yield increases and forage quality declines most rapidly as alfalfa matures during the spring and early summer.
  • Harvest in late summer can be delayed by 15 to 20 days after vegetative state because digestibility declines more slowly than in the spring and early summer. This allows you to gain more yield and more milk per acre.