Alfalfa (scientific name Medicago sativa) is one of the most well known and widely used forage crops in the world. Its high yield and quality allow it to be used in feeding programs for many different types of livestock. In Tennessee, alfalfa is used primarily as a feed for horses and dairy cattle. Alfalfa could also potentially be used in beef cattle operations as a feed for animals with high nutrient requirements, such as lactating cows or backgrounded calves.
The versatility of alfalfa makes it useful in many operations. Whether it is used for hay, silage, grazing, green-chop or as a rotation crop, alfalfa is unrivaled in its ability to produce high yields of an exceptional quality forage. To produce this forage, a certain degree of management is required. It is important to pay attention to details before establishment, as well as throughout the life of the stand. Success with alfalfa depends on three steps:
A. Establish a good stand.
B. Maintain a good stand.
C. Harvest at the correct stage.
"SP434C Alfalfa High-quality Forage Production," The University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service, SP434C-5M-7/98 E12-2015-00-031-99, http://trace.tennessee.edu/utk_agexfora/5