Timely In-Season News from Your Federated Agronomists
Good Stand Equals High Value in Alfalfa

Alfalfa is a high-value crop, but getting and maintaining a healthy stand requires more than good rain and plenty of sunshine.

Craig Loen, Federated
alfalfa plant
Agronomist at the Osceola location, offered these tips for planting and retaining the value of an alfalfa crop.
  1. Soil test before planting. A soil test - for any crop - is a sound management tool. Know what's in the soil before you plant into or fertilize it.
  2. Prepare the soil. A firm seed bed is critical for alfalfa planting. "You should be able to bounce a basketball on the surface," said Loen, adding, "if you can't, the soil may need to be packed (rolled) again" before planting.
  3. Check the phosphorous and potassium levels in the soil to make sure they are sufficient to support a high-yielding stand of alfalfa.
  4. Check the pH, which, said Loen, "is very important for alfalfa." A pH level of 6.8 to 7.0 is optimal for alfalfa, from seeding to establishment to longevity of the crop.
  5. Fertilize for high yields and feed quality. Multiple applications or potash and boron are especially necessary over the life of a stand.
  6. Apply herbicides on 
    Round Up Ready┬«  alfalfa stands to improve the feed value of the crop. Loen noted that "a fungicide application can also be a good value for optimum plant health, which in turn can increase the feed quality."
  7. Take tissue samples ("a snapshot in time," said Loen) to determine nutrient deficiencies, and add nutrients as needed to improve yields, quality, and longevity.
  8. Remove the alfalfa crop at its peak for highest yields.
  9. Check the stand consistently to determine whether it's viable or needs to be terminated to rotate to another crop.
And as always, contact your Federated Agronomist with any alfalfa questions or concerns.
Field Scouting Begins Now

As planting comes to completion the inclination is to take a breather, but before that happens, get out and scout. "Protect your investment . . . make sure it's right (ground proofing)," said Tim Stelter, manager at the Osceola location.
early corn seedlings
Get out in the fields early and check the stands for "uniform emergence, signs of cutworm feeding [in corn], other insects, or early weed concerns," said Stelter. With heavy investments in new technology, such as variable rate seeding and fertilizer, getting it right is not only agronomically sound, but economically wise. And it's one more way to help protect and promote yield.
Take advantage of the new apps for phones and tablets (such as IPM, among others) that make scouting easier, especially when it comes to pest identification. Plus, said Stelter, "drones and satellite imagery can help alert us to potential problems that need to be looked at more closely."
Thanks to a string of mild winters, more pests are surviving through the season, and scouting fields is the only way to see what's happening. "Good old-fashioned boots on the ground are still needed," said Stelter, "maybe more than ever."
Talk to your Federated Agronomist about any concerns that arise from scouting your fields.
Defend Against Stress, Improve Plant Health

Plant health gets an added boost with VersaMax AC, an enhanced nutritional micro blend that can be applied on corn, soybeans, and more. Federated recommends this product as a "tool for improving overall plant health."
VersaMax ingredient list
Labeled for use on any crop, VersaMax AC offers:
  • six key nutrients (see chart);
  • foliar nutrition to help defend against plant stress; 
  • tank-mixing capabilities;
  • increased humectancy (which helps plants absorb and retain nutrients)
  • increased yield potential and return on investment (see fact sheet for corn and soybean yield trial results).
VersaMax AC can be applied before or after deficiency symptoms appear, at a use rate of 1-2 qt./ac. It can also be applied with pesticides, either as a foliar application or in the soil.
Contact your Federated Agronomist to learn more about foliar applications.
Federated Co-ops, Inc. |  763-389-2582