Protect Alfalfa from Preying Insects

The late season snow, combined with an extremely wet spring, caused significant damage to alfalfa fields particularly in southeast Minnesota and Wisconsin.  As a result, thousands of acres that would’ve been harvested have been lost.  We all understand this basic economic principle: when supplies are lower, prices rise.

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.

Photo by Clemson University, www.ipmimages.org.

The alfalfa weevil will be one of the main alfalfa-damaging insects this growing season.  It’s only about a quarter inch long, but the little weevil can do big damage.   Even if you don’t see the alfalfa weevils, you’ll notice their presence in the field.  Look on 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.

potato leafhopper

Another concern this growing season is the alfalfa that was seeded last year.  The 2012 Drought, combined with an extremely long winter, made these plants more susceptible to stress.  Newly Seeded also is fragile, so special attention should be given to your new seeding fields.  Stressed and fragile plants make plants weaker, and pests are known to prey on weaker plants.  It will pay to walk your alfalfa fields vigilantly all season long!