Alfalfa, a cool-season perennial, is usually grown to feed livestock or is made as a cover crop and/or soil conditioner. This is because of its great nutrition and the fact that it’s a natural source of nitrogen, improving soil and helping with erosion control, nourishing surrounding plants, AND the soil. It’s also a very popular plant because it’s easy to care for and maintain!
However, this only works when you plant them on time for them to grow effectively and harvest as needed. The times you should plant alfalfa depends on the state you are from, and when in Michigan, it may have you wonder about the optimum timing.
If you want to know when to plant alfalfa in Michigan for better growth, read on!
When to Plant Alfalfa in Michigan
Alfalfa is easy to plant since you can seed it any time of the year, though the timing is still an important factor. This will ensure that you reap the best harvest since good weather will help your alfalfa grow and develop successfully. After all, certain seasons will provide plants the specific light, temperatures, and water it needs, besides your usual care and maintenance.
Planting and maintaining alfalfa fields in Michigan is different compared to doing so in southern counties. Even the timing of seeding and planting is different, but in general, it’s important to plant alfalfa seeds during the spring season. Spring seeding would work best especially around the Osceola Country and the areas surrounding it, specifically between April to May.
While you can plant during the late summer, it’s still best to plant during spring, as you have adequate soil moisture, suitable temperatures, as well as the growing season and less deep pressure for optimum growth. Summer seeding does have its advantages I’ll mention as well, though personally, spring is recommended to give the seeds time to grow efficiently.
There are more factors to consider when planting alfalfa, from the soil quality to manure and fertilizer used. But timing is a good start to learning more about how to plant alfalfa well.
What If I Missed Spring Planting?
Sometimes, April and May can be an extremely wet and muddy season, which prevents you from planting alfalfa successfully. Some farmers and gardeners will have to postpone planting during the spring because of the harsh weather conditions that affect soil quality.
Don’t worry, as you can still plant alfalfa during the late summer, which may even be beneficial in Michigan. This is because insect and weed pressure is lessened compared to spring seasons.
With that in mind, it’s best to plant summer seedings between June 15 to August 1 in Michigan’s northern regions or Upper Peninsula. In southern regions, plant your alfalfa before August 15.
But if the weather still stays very dry, it’s best to wait until the next spring season, since anything planted after August 15 won’t have time to produce proper root food storage to last and survive the winter season. Even if it does survive, they won’t yield greatly come the next growing season.
When you time your summer seedlings well, it gives the plants a chance to grow before the colder season arrives, preventing it from being killed by the frost. Alfalfa requires at least six to eight weeks of growth before winter arrives, so you avoid disaster!
Do you want to learn more about how to plant alfalfa? This informative video can help you out:
Wrapping It Up
Alfalfa is a major forage crop in dairy and livestock production, and it can be quite pricey. That’s why it’s best to time its planting correctly to prevent it from getting damaged from harsh weather conditions and the like. In Michigan, I recommend that you plant it during spring, or late summer if the wet and muddy months have kept you from seeding alfalfa.
I hope that this article effectively explained when to plant alfalfa in Michigan for you. Begin planning out when to plant your alfalfa seeds and prepare the tools and seeds you need now! Good luck with planting.