• Plant Health
  • Jan 29, 2021

5 Preseason Tips for a Robust Alfalfa Crop

Early-Season Alfalfa

With spring quickly approaching, now is the time to plan ahead for a healthy, abundant alfalfa crop. Here are five considerations as you plan alfalfa management and input choices with top yield and quality in mind.


1. Select the right alfalfa varieties for your acres, keeping disease resistance and yield potential top of mind

A successful season starts by finding the right seed for your fields. Matching the right alfalfa variety to your soils and your field’s environment, including weed control and disease resistance, is the foundation of a successful alfalfa stand.


CROPLAN® seed by WinField® United offers a wide selection of alfalfa variety options and traits to help you achieve your yield goals, including:

  • Conventional alfalfa varieties designed to match a variety of conditions, including protection against numerous pathogens including aphanomyces root rot, anthracnose and more

  • Roundup Ready® Alfalfa that offers flexible weed management and increased stand density

  • HarvXtra® Alfalfa varieties to help maximize forage digestibility by reducing the amount of lignin in the plant and provide greater harvest flexibility


2. Maintain optimal soil fertility for yield and quality             

Fertility programs should be reviewed regularly, with particular attention placed on soil pH, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur and boron. If these nutrients are running low or missing in a fertility program, alfalfa plants will not be able to manufacture the high yield and quality that alfalfa genetics can provide. Soil and plant tissue testing is key to maintaining proper nutrient levels in your fields. 


3. Pay attention to previous crop chemistry

The previous year's crop weed control chemistry can carry over and hinder alfalfa establishment. Many products used in corn and soybean weed control programs have a long residual period that can impact alfalfa establishment. Be sure to carefully review labels of previously-applied herbicide products.


4. Understand the importance of seed treatments

Alfalfa seed is often planted early spring in cool and wet soils. It is important to consider buying seed that contains quality fungicide seed treatments to help alfalfa seedlings survive and get off to a vigorous, healthy start. Research has demonstrated that alfalfa seedlings with coated seed tend to have more vigor when diseases are present,* which helps preserve the stand establishment and yield potential of the alfalfa crop.      


Alfalfa seed treatments also contain rhizobium inoculant along with base fungicides to manage early-season soil diseases. Proven products included in coated seed treatments are Apron® XL fungicide (metalaxyl) to help protect against phytophthora, pythium and other diseases, and Stamina® fungicide (pyroclostribin) to add protection against aphanomyces, rhizoctonia and fusarium species. In addition, Ascend® plant growth regulator and nutrients such as zinc and manganese can be added to help enhance early seedling vigor.


5. Develop a season-long management plan

Disease and insect protection for established alfalfa is vital to retaining leaves, the most high quality part of alfalfa plants. A broad-spectrum product like Arctic® insecticide can help manage in-season insect pressure. Adding a foliar fungicide treatment such as Headline® or Priaxor® on first and second cutting and late summer cuttings can help maintain leaf retention and improve yield potential.


A foliar-applied fungicide and insecticide application, in addition to a solid nutrient program that includes WinField United MAX-IN® micronutrients such as MAX-IN® Boron or MAX-IN® Sulfur, can help provide solid protection for strong yield potential and high quality potential in your alfalfa crop. 


Talk to your local WinField United advisor for more information about the best alfalfa management strategy for your fields.


*Study by Forage Genetics International, West Salem, WI, 2018.


All photos are either the property of WinField United or used with permission.


Important: Before use always read and follow label instructions. Crop performance is dependent on several factors many of which are beyond the control of WinField United, including without limitation, soil type, pest pressures, agronomic practices, and weather conditions. Growers are encouraged to consider data from multiple locations, over multiple years, and be mindful of how such agronomic conditions could impact results.


© 2021 WinField United. Arctic®, CROPLAN®, MAX-IN® and WinField® are trademarks of WinField United.

Apron® is a trademark of Syngenta.

HarvXtra® is a registered trademark of Forage Genetics International, LLC. HarvXtra® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology is enabled with Technology from The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc.

Headline®, Priaxor® and Stamina® are registered trademarks of BASF.

Roundup Ready® is a registered trademark of Bayer.

Thank You for Signing Up.

Get the latest insights and tips – directly to your inbox

Subscribe to our Advisor e-newsletter, keeping you up to date on the latest news, information and agronomic tips in the industry, national and local.

By signing up for WinField United emails, you agree to receive promotional information from WinField United. The emails will contain valuable agronomic insights, the latest WinField United product information and field updates. For more information about our privacy policy, please review it here.


Yes, sign me up for my local . ​

Enter your contact details and we’ll start delivering your local report to your inbox, based on the zip code you provide.



Thank you for your request. One of our expert agronomists will be reaching out to you shortly.