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Protect Alfalfa from Preying Insects

07/08/2013 @ 3:05pm

Late-season snow, combined with an extremely wet spring, caused significant damage to alfalfa fields particularly in southeast Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Thousands of acres that would have been harvested were lost.   

Dairy and livestock producers will want to save as much as yield as possible to help reduce their forage costs.  Those who are selling their hay crops obviously want to maximize tonnage, so it’s important for all growers to scout their alfalfa fields early and often.  Develop a plan to reduce insect pressure before too much damage is done.

Most growers today prophylactically spray their alfalfa fields as part of their season-long pest management system.  Even with insecticide applications, it’s good to continue to monitor fields following a spraying to keep current with any potential insect flare ups that could cause problems between cuttings.

The alfalfa weevil will be one of the main alfalfa-damaging insects this growing season.  It’s only about a quarter inch long, but it can do big damage.  Watch for this pest, which is light brown with a brown V-shaped shield on its back.  Even if you don’t see the alfalfa weevils, you’ll notice their presence in the field.  Look on alfalfa leaves for pinhole or lacing-type feeding damage.

Also be on the lookout for potato leafhoppers.  Consistent scouting can give farmers the data necessary to decide if they need to control the leafhopper population.  If pest management is necessary, applications can be timed appropriately.  

NOTE:  Leafhopper-resistant alfalfa is available from Latham Hi-Tech Seeds.  It’s just one of the many exciting, new products we’ve added to our 2013 lineup to handle specific environmental challenges present in select acres.

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