Determining when to cut first-crop alfalfa is often difficult because alfalfa quality, relative to flowering stage, varies greatly. To help with this dilemma, agronomists at the University of Wisconsin – Madison developed the Predictive Equations for Alfalfa Quality (PEAQ) method which predicts alfalfa’s Relative Feed Value (RFV) at the time of cutting. The PEAQ Stick Method measures standing alfalfa’s forage quality before it is harvested by measuring alfalfa height using a wooden PEAQ measuring stick and an equation to determine alfalfa’s RFV. The RFV values are calculated based on the alfalfa plant’s maturity stage. Another method to determine the optimal time to harvest is using the Scissors Cut method, which uses lab analysis of actual alfalfa plants representing the field to be harvested.
To help farmers to determine the optimal time to cut first-crop alfalfa haylage, UW-Extension Team Forage has provided Forage Quality Changes During Spring Growth. This site provides up-to-date data from across the state regarding PEAQ and Scissor Cut data to help individual gauge the optimal time to harvest. The site is meant to provide guidance as the alfalfa plant matures. Visit the site often to gauge how fast or slow the alfalfa plant is maturing as we reach optimal time to harvest.
For more information regarding alfalfa quality, please visit UW-Extension Team Forage.