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

Posted on May 26, 2016 in Forage Foundations
For the most part, this crop season is starting nicely throughout the Midwest.  Here’s a look at corn planting progress and alfalfa conditions as of May 17 at several points in the Vita Plus market area.

Here are a few additional comments from our dairy and forage consultants:

Northwest Iowa and southwest Minnesota – By John Brantsen, Vita Plus dairy specialist
Corn planting in our area is behind schedule due to wet conditions.  May 16 was the first day many farmers were able to get into the field in more than a week, but lots of progress will be made as the upcoming forecast looks to be dry.  With all the rain we have had, farmers will likely cut alfalfa when they have a weather window to do so.  Some guys are cutting this week.  The crop is growing rapidly and farmers looking for quality will want to cut early.  With good field conditions going into winter and plenty of moisture this spring, the alfalfa looks great, but quality may be an issue if farmers wait too long to harvest.

Western Michigan – By Mark Case, Vita Plus dairy specialist
Most of the corn and soybean fields are fairly wet.  Some corn is planted, but not as much as normal, based on the calendar.  With a week of sunshine, a good chunk of acres should be planted this week.  Alfalfa made it through the winter in pretty good shape and stands look good.  Growing degree day (GDD) accumulations for central and western Michigan average about 450 days, with a forecast of about 500 by the first of next week.  First-crop alfalfa is usually taken when GDD is between 650 and 700.  Some producers are talking about taking advantage of the weather window and taking first crop early.  They hope to lower feed costs by putting up alfalfa haylage with relative feed value (RFV) above 150.

Eastern Wisconsin – By Jon Rasmussen, Vita Plus dairy technology specialist
Those closer to Lake Michigan are behind, but it has been amazing how quickly corn has been planted inland.  At the very end of April, farms were wondering when we would be able to plant as it seemed extremely wet and, two weeks later, we are closing in on 90 percent planted.  PEAQ measures in many inland hayfields are showing 190 RFV and farms have started cutting.  Normal cutting in the region is closer to Memorial Day and, this year, most of the dairy-quality alfalfa looks like it will be ensiled well before the holiday weekend.

Southwest Wisconsin – By Jerry Ruetten, Vita Plus Dodgeville dairy specialist
We had an overnight frost on May 14, but it doesn’t seem to have affected anything except the tops of the alfalfa plants.  Cutting started May 17 and, on average, alfalfa is about 26 inches tall.  According to the PEAQ stick, it should be 180 RFQ.  All ryelage has been chopped and the current local weather forecast is showing clear conditions and temperatures warming from the 60s to the 80s for highs in the next 10 to 12 days.  That should allow for great conditions to harvest first crop and finish corn planting as well as getting a good start on soybean planting.

Category: Crop varieties
Forage Foundations