Once again, winterkill has taken a toll on alfalfa across the northern reaches of the Midwest, reports Dan Undersander, an Extension forage agronomist with the University of Wisconsin.
“We have significant areas of alfalfa winterkill,” he says. “Areas of the eastern Dakotas and northwest and central Minnesota have had winterkill. This was likely due to cold weather and lack of snow which caused the soil temperature to fall to less than 13F and kill crowns.
“There is also significant damage of alfalfa across central Wisconsin from Eau Claire to Green Bay where heaving has occurred pushing alfalfa 2 to 3 inches out of the ground. These fields will be lost as well,” he says.
Two years ago, roughly 50% of the alfalfa crop was lost in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Central and southern portions of those states were hit hard. It’s likely too early to tell if losses this year will be as extensive. “We are seeing little to no winterkill or injury in southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois or northeast Iowa,” he says.