Regional report: Spring planting and alfalfa progress – John Brantsen, Jerry Ruetten, Jon Rasmussen and Mark Case, Vita Plus

Posted on May 23, 2017 in Forage Foundations
Most of the crop season has had a slow and wet start, but, with promising weather on the horizon, farmers hope to get back in the fields soon.  Hear from our Vita Plus dairy and forage consultants as they provide insights on the planting and alfalfa progress across the Vita Plus market area.

Northwest Iowa, May 11, 2017 – By John Brantsen, Vita Plus dairy specialist
In northwest Iowa and southwest Minnesota, corn planting got off to a slow start due to wet and cool conditions during the latter half of April and the first week in May.  In the past five days, however, a lot of corn has been put in the ground and a few of the fields that were planted mid-April have started to emerge.  The weather forecast for the next week looks to be very conducive for continued planting progress.  For the most part, alfalfa stands look very good with only a few reports of winterkill; most issues were in fields that took a late fifth cutting last year or had standing water in low areas.  With adequate moisture and daytime high temperatures expected to be between 70 and 80 degrees F the next 7 to 10 days, first-cutting alfalfa could be ahead of schedule.

Southwest Wisconsin, May 12, 2017 – By Jerry Ruetten, Vita Plus Dodgeville dairy specialist
It has been a cool and wet start to the season in southwest Wisconsin.  We have seen winterkill in some of our alfalfa stands coming out of winter.  On average, we feel most producers had 5 to 15 percent winterkill, especially on south-facing slopes and stands three years or older.  Currently, the average height of alfalfa is 20 to 24 inches and, according to the predictive equations for alfalfa quality (PEAQ) stick, it should be at least 190 to 210 relative forage value (RFV).  Given the short-term forecast for warmer weather between 70 and 80 degrees F, we expect the alfalfa to stretch out quickly.  Some producers who usually cut early are talking about cutting the week of May 15.  Most winter rye has been cut and chopped within the last week.

Planting progress has varied quite a bit.  Most of our seeding is done, and corn planting is probably 35 to 40 percent complete.  Some of the corn just started to emerge.  With the drier and warmer weather coming, we expect corn planting to be completed and soybean planting to start over the next two to three weeks.

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 2017 growing season.

Eastern Wisconsin, May, 11, 2017 – By Jon Rasmussen, Vita Plus dairy technology specialist
Cropping practices started to improve in eastern Wisconsin around May 5. Since then, we have had some seeding and cover crops put in the ground, as well as a few select areas getting corn in the ground.  This has set up for the normal rush to get planting done while also watching the hay crop that looks to be ready for harvest in a couple weeks.  Hay harvest will be interesting as areas that have really heavy soil, particularly those that took late harvests last year, suffered significant winterkill.  Some farms will work up most of their hay ground while others will work up very little.  I estimate about a third of the hay ground in the region suffered damage.  As the weather warms, we will make good progress in the next two to three weeks.

Western Michigan, May 11, 2017 – By Mark Case, Vita Plus dairy specialist
Planters are rolling this week getting corn in the ground.  After a few rainy weeks, farmers are anxious to play catch-up.  I would estimate corn planting progress at about 30 to 40 percent done.  Alfalfa maturation was really moving forward at a rapid pace, but this recent cool weather has slowed things.  Growing degree days (GDD) is around 350 for most of the areas in my territory.  The forecast is for warmer weather, so we should be pushing 500 by the end of next week.  PEAQ stick measurements are around 250 to 280 RFV.  From what I am observing and hearing, winterkill of alfalfa is minimal this year.

Category: Forage Foundations
Forage harvesting
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