2012 Drought Creates Additional Concerns for 2013 Alfalfa New Seeding Establishment

The 2012 Drought continues to impact how farmers must manage their 2013 crops.  Since drought can slow the breakdown of herbicide in the soil, it also can increase the likelihood of carryover.

Some Best Management Practices for new seeding following a drought include selecting the right seed and planting crops with a good tolerance to herbicide used during the 2012 cropping season on that field.  Forage can be an especially important product during draughty times, so many growers are concerned how herbicide carryover could potentially affect the germination and growth of new seeding or a new crop on the field.

If you question whether the field you will be seeding might have herbicide carryover, you could conduct a flower pot test.  It’s as simple as comparing two pots of soil:

  • Remove the top 2 inches of soil from field or area of the field in question
  • Put soil in flower pot #1
  • Plant alfalfa seed in flower pot #1
  • Fill pot #2 with regular potting soil
  • Plant the same seed in flower pot #2
  • Compare plant growth between the two pots, planted on the same day.  Watch for symptoms such as irregular or strange plant growth, or limited emergence, etc.

This flower pot test isn’t 100% foolproof, but it’s worth trying as it requires a minimal investment of both time and money.  To be even safer, consider planting those “questionable acres” to corn or the previous crop again in 2013.  While this may change your cropping plans, we want to be sure you’re positioned for success in the year ahead.

For additional background information about carryover and its potential impact on alfalfa, check out these articles by university researchers: