Many people plant alfalfa in MO in early to mid-September into October. Alfalfa can then be overseeded any time after mid-November into December or January, depending on the climate. Spring planting is also an option if you live in a cooler area that’s north of the Missouri River. Let’s look at when to plant Alfalfa in MO.
Alfalfa is an excellent fodder crop to grow in Missouri; with the correct planting and management, it will last up to five years. Alfalfa can be planted in either the spring or the fall depending on the climate and is commonly grown to feed cattle and horses.
When to Plant Alfalfa in MO
Alfafa is one of the main fodder crops grown in Missouri, with over 400,000 acres being grown across the state annually. Alfalfa seed can be sown in the early fall. If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow, it’s best to plant early enough before it snows so the alfalfa has time to establish itself before winter sets in.
In many areas, alfalfa can be planted in early spring anytime between March and April; however, if you wait too long into late April or even early may and spring is wetter than expected, the seeds may not germinate well because of the excess moisture.
When to plant Alfalfa by area
Planting times for alfalfa will vary slightly depending on where you live and will be determined by the climate and temperature. Before planting, you should till the soil and test the soil’s pH range. Alfalfa grows best when the soil’s pH is between 6.0 and 7.5. Here’s a look at when to plant alfalfa in MO.
Areas north of the Missouri river
Plant your alfalfa crop in the late spring or early summer. Md April is the best time for planting so that the seeds are established before summer.
When seeding in the spring, you can plant your alfalfa in late March or at the beginning of April. This will give the crop time to establish itself before the weather heats up. Fall planting can be done in late August or at the beginning of October so that the crop has time to become winter hardy before snowfalls.
Alfalfa planting tips
Now that you have an idea of when to plant alfalfa in MO, let’s take a look at a few planting tips:
Alfalfa should be planted in full sun, in well-drained soils; however, if it is in a field that rarely gets water or in an area that tends to hold water for any length of time, you may need to regularly aerate the area to help prevent soil compaction and allow better drainage.
Alfalfa generally does not need fertilizer for the first planting, but you can add some manure or compost to the soil when tilling. This is particularly important if the soil quality isn’t good, as it will help feed the young alfalfa seedlings.
Alfalfa will be green and not dormant when planted in the fall. To reduce weed pressure (winter annuals like chickweed and henbit), make sure you get good seed to soil contact and firm the soil after seeding. This is helpful for establishment and will help hold the seed in place during heavy rains.
In Missouri, alfalfa can be planted early to mid-September into October or in the early spring. It’s a versatile crop that is relatively cold hardy, and can also tolerate drought. If you take good care of your alfalfa, it will provide fodder for horses and cattle for up to five years.