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Alfalfa for Deer A Guide to Planting and Harvesting

Alfalfa for Deer a Guide to Planting and Harvesting

how to plant alfalfa for deer

How to Plant Alfalfa for Deer

Alfalfa is a perennial legume that is a popular choice for deer forage. It is high in protein and nutrients, and deer love to eat it. Alfalfa can be planted in a variety of locations, and it is relatively easy to grow.

Here are the steps on how to plant alfalfa for deer:

  1. Choose a location that gets full sun. Alfalfa needs at least 6 hours of sunlight per day to thrive.
  2. Prepare the soil by tilling it to a depth of 6 inches.
  3. Plant alfalfa seeds 1 inch deep and 6 inches apart.
  4. Water the seeds well and keep the soil moist until they germinate.
  5. Fertilize the alfalfa crop with a high-nitrogen fertilizer once per month.
  6. Water the alfalfa crop regularly, especially during dry weather.
  7. Weed and control pests as needed.
  8. Harvester the alfalfa crop when the leaves are dry and the stems are brown.

Alfalfa is a great choice for deer forage, and it is relatively easy to grow. By following these steps, you can help provide your deer with a healthy and nutritious food source.

Topic Features
Alfalfa
  • A legume
  • A perennial plant
  • Grows in a wide range of climates
  • Provides high-quality forage for deer
Deer
  • Herbivores
  • Eat a variety of plants, including alfalfa
  • Benefit from the high-quality forage that alfalfa provides
Fodder
  • Plant material that is grown for livestock to eat
  • Alfalfa is a popular type of fodder for deer
  • Provides deer with the nutrients they need to stay healthy
Plant
  • Alfalfa can be planted in a variety of ways
  • The best time to plant alfalfa is in the spring or fall
  • Alfalfa requires regular watering and fertilization
Wildlife
  • Alfalfa provides food and shelter for a variety of wildlife species
  • Deer, rabbits, and birds all benefit from alfalfa plants
  • Alfalfa can help to improve the overall health of wildlife populations

how to plant alfalfa for deer

2. Benefits of growing alfalfa for deer

Alfalfa is a nutritious and palatable forage crop that is well-suited for deer. It is high in protein, calcium, and other essential nutrients, and it provides deer with a valuable source of food during the winter months. Alfalfa also helps to improve the soil quality and structure, which can benefit deer and other wildlife.

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Choosing the right location for your alfalfa crop

The best location for an alfalfa crop is one that receives full sun and has well-drained soil. Alfalfa is a deep-rooted plant, so it needs soil that can hold moisture without becoming waterlogged. If you have heavy clay soil, you may need to add sand or compost to improve drainage.

Alfalfa is a nitrogen-fixing plant, which means that it can help to improve the fertility of your soil. However, it is still important to fertilize your alfalfa crop regularly, especially if you are growing it for hay.

You should also choose a location for your alfalfa crop that is not too close to other crops, as alfalfa can be a weedy plant.

Preparing the soil

The first step in planting alfalfa for deer is to prepare the soil. The soil should be well-drained and have a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. If the soil is too acidic, you can add lime to raise the pH. If the soil is too alkaline, you can add sulfur to lower the pH.

Once the soil has been prepared, you can begin planting alfalfa seeds. Alfalfa seeds are small and should be planted about 1 inch deep. The seeds should be spaced about 6 inches apart.

After planting the seeds, you should water them regularly. The seeds will germinate in about 2 weeks.

5. Planting alfalfa seeds

To plant alfalfa seeds, you will need to:

  • Prepare the soil by tilling it to a depth of 6 inches and removing any rocks or debris.
  • Sow the seeds at a rate of 2 pounds per acre.
  • Cover the seeds with 1/2 inch of soil.
  • Water the seeds thoroughly.

Alfalfa seeds will germinate in 7-10 days. Once the seedlings have emerged, thin them to 6 inches apart.

Alfalfa is a perennial crop, so it will come back year after year. You will need to fertilize it and water it regularly to keep it healthy.

You can harvest alfalfa hay when the plants are 12-14 inches tall.

6. Fertilizing your alfalfa crop

Alfalfa is a nitrogen-fixing plant, which means that it can convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form that plants can use. However, alfalfa still needs to be fertilized in order to produce a healthy crop. The amount of fertilizer that you need to apply will depend on the soil fertility in your area.

If you are not sure how much fertilizer to apply, you can have your soil tested by a local extension agent. The test results will tell you the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium that your soil needs.

You can fertilize your alfalfa crop with a variety of fertilizers, including:

  • Nitrogen fertilizer
  • Phosphorus fertilizer
  • Potassium fertilizer
  • Organic fertilizer

It is important to apply fertilizer to your alfalfa crop at the right time. The best time to fertilize is in the spring, before the plants start to grow. You can also apply fertilizer in the fall, after the plants have been harvested.

When applying fertilizer, it is important to follow the directions on the label. You should also be careful not to over-fertilize your alfalfa crop, as this can damage the plants.

Fertilizing your alfalfa crop will help to ensure that the plants are healthy and productive. A healthy alfalfa crop will provide your deer with a nutritious and abundant source of food.

7. Watering your alfalfa crop

Alfalfa is a drought-tolerant crop, but it does need some water to thrive. The amount of water your alfalfa crop needs will depend on the climate and the soil conditions. In general, alfalfa needs about 1 inch of water per week. However, you may need to water your alfalfa more often during periods of drought or if the soil is sandy.

To water your alfalfa crop, you can use a sprinkler, drip irrigation, or a hose. If you are using a sprinkler, be sure to water the entire crop evenly. If you are using drip irrigation, be sure to place the emitters so that they water the roots of the plants. If you are using a hose, be sure to water the plants slowly and deeply.

It is important to water your alfalfa crop at the right time. The best time to water is in the morning or evening. Avoid watering your alfalfa crop during the heat of the day, as this can damage the plants.

By following these tips, you can help your alfalfa crop to thrive and provide plenty of nutritious forage for deer.

Weeding and pest control

Weeding and pest control

Alfalfa is a relatively low-maintenance crop, but it is still important to keep an eye out for weeds and pests. Weeds can compete with alfalfa for water and nutrients, and they can also harbor pests. Pests can damage alfalfa plants and reduce their yield.

The best way to control weeds and pests is to prevent them from becoming a problem in the first place. This can be done by:

  • Planting alfalfa in a well-drained location that is free of weeds
  • Rotating alfalfa with other crops
  • Using cover crops to suppress weeds
  • Applying herbicides to control weeds
  • Monitoring your alfalfa crop for pests and taking action to control them as soon as possible

If weeds or pests do become a problem, there are a number of ways to control them. The best control method for a particular situation will depend on the type of weed or pest, the severity of the infestation, and the cost of the control method.

Some common methods of controlling weeds and pests include:

  • Hand-pulling weeds
  • Mowing weeds
  • Using herbicides
  • Biological control (using natural predators to control pests)
  • Cultural control (changing the growing conditions to make it more difficult for pests to survive)

By following these tips, you can help to keep your alfalfa crop healthy and productive.

9. Harvesting your alfalfa crop

Once your alfalfa crop is mature, it is time to harvest it. The best time to harvest alfalfa is when the plants are in full bloom. You can harvest alfalfa by hand or with a machine.

To harvest alfalfa by hand, use a pair of scissors or shears to cut the stems off of the plants. Be sure to leave a few inches of stem on the plant so that it can regrow.

To harvest alfalfa with a machine, use a forage harvester or a mower. Forage harvesters are specifically designed for harvesting alfalfa, while mowers can also be used to harvest alfalfa.

Once you have harvested your alfalfa crop, you can store it in a barn or shed. You can also dry the alfalfa and store it in bags or bales.

Alfalfa is a nutritious and palatable forage for deer. By planting and harvesting alfalfa, you can provide a valuable food source for deer in your area.

FAQ

Q: What is the best time to plant alfalfa for deer?
A: The best time to plant alfalfa for deer is in the early spring, as soon as the ground is warm enough to work.

Q: How much alfalfa should I plant for deer?
A: You should plant enough alfalfa to provide a year-round food source for deer. A good rule of thumb is to plant 10 pounds of alfalfa seed per acre.

Q: How do I care for alfalfa for deer?
A: To care for alfalfa for deer, you will need to water it regularly, fertilize it, and control weeds and pests.

Katie Owen
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