Regional report: Spring planting and alfalfa progress – Greg Wiener, Jerry Ruetten, Jon Rasmussen and Nathan Hrnicek, Vita Plus

Posted on May 22, 2018 in Forage Foundations
From Iowa to Michigan, consultants report on planting and alfalfa harvest progress.

Iowa/Minnesota/South Dakota, May 19, 2018Greg Wiener, Vita Plus dairy specialist
Northwest Iowa is struggling to finish planting as it has been wet the last 10 days.  Southwest Minnesota is in the same shape as northwest Iowa.  These areas also had a significant amount of snow this past winter.  Alfalfa is looking good and shaping up to be a very plentiful crop.

Conditions are quite a bit different in east-central South Dakota and west-central Minnesota.  These areas saw very minimal snow this winter and have not yet had any measurable rain this spring.  It is very dry.  Within the same field, some wheat is 12 inches tall in the low ground, yet, on the high ground, seed has not even sprouted yet.  First-crop hay is going to be later than typical because of cold ground and dry weather.  We’ve seen winterkill in some of the alfalfa stands in this area too.

Believe it or not, frost is still in the ground here.  A producer in central Minnesota ran drag hose lines to pump manure.  He needed to go through a culvert, but it had too much ice for the hose to go through.  This was last night at about 7 p.m.  This culvert is in the wide open with no trees shading it.

Southwest Wisconsin, May 14, 2018 – Jerry Ruetten, Vita Plus Dodgeville dairy specialist
It has been a late spring warm-up here in southwest Wisconsin.  Even though we had sporadic snow cover during winter, most alfalfa fields show little to no winterkill.  Winter wheat and rye look good, except it will mature a little later.  A few of the local dairy producers’ alfalfa inventories are getting low, and they are looking forward to some warm weather to accelerate first-crop growth.  Currently, the average height of alfalfa is 16 to 20 inches.

Most of our small grain and alfalfa seeding is done, and corn planting finally got going in the last 10 days of April.  Then we received 7 to 9 inches of rain locally in the first 14 days of May, which put a halt to all planting.  Some of the early planted corn is starting to emerge.  The weather forecast for the next 10 days shows spotty showers for a few days, but the high temperatures should get into the low- to mid-70s.

As always, we want to stress the need for safety during these busy times of the year on the roads and in the fields!  We look forward to a great 2018 growing season.

Eastern Wisconsin, May 18, 2018Jon Rasmussen, Vita Plus dairy specialist
It would be an understatement to say spring in eastern Wisconsin has been interesting.  As many were hoping to get some tillage going for small grains, we had the most snowfall recorded in 120 years.  As the snow melted relatively quickly, the ground appeared dry and all we needed was some heat to get going.  With the heat coming, some areas received 6 to 8 inches of rain within a week.  Most of the alfalfa looks to have made it through the winter and will be near ready for prime harvest in the weeks surrounding Memorial Day.  Some wheat and grass fields did suffer some setbacks, but most faired the winter well.  Some impressive planting has been accomplished in the areas where the ground has good drainage.  It is another fast-paced spring in eastern Wisconsin!

Northern Indiana/Southern Michigan, May 16, 2018Nathan Hrnicek, Vita Plus forage products specialist
Planting is proceeding nicely for most of the geography, with some areas a bit delayed because of rain.  Corn and soybean planting continues, while most alfalfa is in the ground.  Across this geography, some corn has three leaves already.  Most of the corn emergence is very even, so that is a welcome sign.  Small grain forages have been harvested, and yields were lower than expected in most cases due to a longer-than-normal winter.  First-crop alfalfa is just starting to come off in central and southern Indiana, while northern Indiana and southern Michigan are still a few days to a week off.  I have not heard of any significant winterkill events in this region.  As it stands today, we are off to a very good start!

Category: Forage Foundations
Forage harvesting