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Use good alfalfa seed & put more in silo, Baylor says
BY DICK ANGLESTEIN
CAMP HILL Farmers
shouldn’t practice false economy
and cut corners on alfalfa seed
costs and should be prepared to
continue a management program
trend of putting more crop into the
silo than into the bale, a Penn State
hay expert advised Tuesday.
These were among points
stressed by John E. Baylor,
professor of agronomy extension
at Penn State, as he discussed
Pennsylvania's Alfalfa Growers
Program at a seed symposium
conducted Tuesday at the Penn
Harris Motor Inn by Beachley-
Hardy Seed Company, of
“Our studies over the past four
years have shown that alfalfa seed
costs only represent about three
percent of total production ex
penses,” Baylor said.
“But when good seed can
represent an increased return of 15
to 20 percent in higher yield, this
shows that seed purchases are not
the place to cut comers. ’ ’
Baylor cited the other production
costs determined in a study of state
alfalfa growers. The biggest cost is
machinery at 39 percent.
“Machinery represents the
highest cost,” Baylor said.
“Often it’s high priced
machinery being used on too few
Other costs are fertility and
lime, 20percent; labor, 17 percent;
and land, 17 percent.
Overall production costs from
1977 to 1980 have increased from
$2OO to $295 an acre. The break
even yield has jumped from 2.8 to
3.7 tons an acre for a 14 percent
hike per year over the four years.
Baylor said that 1981 has once
again shown that farmers must
place more stress on putting their
alfalfa in the silo as haylage over
baling it if they are to get the most
efficiency from their fields
“This year again was not ideal
for making hay, ” Baylor said.
“One or more cuttings must be
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put in the silo because it’s
necessary due to climactic con
ditions to get the hay off the land
and into storage.
“We just can’t let it lay out there
and prevent the crop from utilizing
the sun for regrowth.”
Returning to the findings in the
Pa. Alfalfa Growers Program,
Baylor said yields in the survey
were in the five and one-Jialf to six
ton per acre range. And tops has
been 9.1 tons.
In the mineral uptake portion of
the study, it was found that potash
removal totaled some 700 pounds
“This shows the need for a good,
sound fertility program with ap
plications of potash,” Baylor said.
Other mineral uptake figures
show 88 pounds of phosphate per
acre, 130 pounds of calcium, 22
pounds of manganese and 24
pounds of sulphur.
Best yields were found on
limestone soils, but good
production was achieved on lesser
shale soils, too. A lot of manure
was used in the rotation.
Top farmers seeded in the spring
with no companion crop. Chemical
control was utilized, along with a
good seeding rate.
Most of the growers had four and
some five cuttings. Cutting in
tervals showed the first coming off
at the bud stage, the second 35 to 37
days later, the third at 37 to 40 days
later and the fourth was variable.
The length of alfalfa stands in
the study ranged from 3.7 to 4
A rosy outlook for the futuire of
alfalfa was painted by Dean Urm
ston, vice president and director of
marketing for W-L Research, Inc.,
of Bakersfield, Calif.
“A survey of major growers in
the top 11 alfalfa producing states
has shown an expected 10 percent
increase m alfalfa acreage by
1990,” Urmston said.
The survey was outlined at the
recent Certified Alfalfa Seed
Symposium hald in Wisconsin.
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Urmston cited four reasons for
the anticipated increase in alfalfa
First, alfalfa is energy efficient.
A stand lasts three to five years
and saves a lot of energy as
compared to annual plantings.
Alfalfa fits ideally into sod
conservation programs, which are
going to receive increasing
governmental concern. Alfalfa
puts nitrogen back into the soil and
the merits of alfalfa silage over
com sdage are starting to be
“A Wisconsin study has shown
that dairymen can make more
money and more mdk with alfalfa
silage,” Urmston said.
A. A. Hanson, director of
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DAYS...AUGUST 25 - 27
Participants in the Beachley-Hardy Seed Beard, vice-president of W-L Research. Inc.;
Company Symposium Tuesday at the Penn Kenneth Beachiey and Jogn Baylor, extension
Harris Motor Inn include, from the left, David agronomist at Penn State.
research for W-L Research, Inc.,
called on basic research in the
public sector to be directed at
more practical ends.
W-L is continuing to expand its
alfalfa seed research, now having
research facilities in 3 states,
comprising some 130 acres of test
Persistence and length of stands
will continue to become more
important due to energy costs, the
Joseph Graham, of W-L
Research, stressed the need for
attention to what he called the
minor alfalfa diseases, such as
He explained that W-L has
followed a breeding program of
developing resistance to these
diseases, as well as the more
Verticillium wilt is expected to
spread farther eastward, he said,
but should remain north of Penn
sylvania, unless the fungus un-
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dergoes a basic change.
Corn production was also
discussed at the symposium at
tended by some 150 Beachley-
Hardy dealers from Pennsylvania
and other parts of the Northeast.
Participants in a panel
discussion included Clarence
Kreider, of Richland; Wendell
Judson, of Columbia Cross Roads;
Wayne Kauffaman, Mt. Pleasant
Mills; and Paul Roth, of Prospect.
Howard Goss and Kenneth
Beachley, of Beachley-Hardy, also
addressed and welcomed the group
to the session at the Penn Harris.
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