Growing Alfalfa Questions

Discussion in 'Crops & Garden' started by Chris, Mar 21, 2006.

  1. Chris

    Chris Administrator Staff Member

    Sep 15, 2003
    Anyone got a great tutorial on planting, growing and harvesting alfalfa? How much can I bail on about 6 open acres. (not much I assume) Can I do all of this with a Ford 4000 4-cylinder diesel?
    How much can you make with this? I assume square baling...just feel that 6-10 acres may be too small.....

    comments?
     
  2. Archdean

    Archdean Active Member

    Jul 15, 2004
    It's been a long time since I graduated but it's still a good school for agriculture and it might help you get started, to be profitable you need more acreage imo!

    http://alfalfa.okstate.edu/
     

  3. Fordfarm

    Fordfarm Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2005
    Your Ford 4000 will work fine for 6 acres. Find a smaller square baler a 7' sickle mower and a side delivery rake and you will be in bidness! Be sure to get rid of as much of the previous crop/grass as you can. You don't really need to fertilize (at least here), but plant a nurse crop (like turnips, rutabagas, radishes)- just mix the seeds in with the alfalfa and go!
     
  4. John-in-Ga

    John-in-Ga john-in-ga

    653
    Sep 22, 2003
    Admin,

    I know squat about alfalfa other than buying the hay is like buying gold. There has to be a reason for that and I suspect that it has to do with the expense of producing hay of desirable quality.

    I have to wonder if the advice you were given above didn’t neglect (with all due respect to the mighty fine feller who offered it) the very important question you ask “how much can I make [dollar wise]?” I don’t think 10 acres will justify owning and maintaining the hay baling equipment required, much less make a profit. Even if you own a 5000 Ford that is just setting around doing nothing. (Warning: you might get by with one tractor, but most folks that I know who bale hay use at least two.)

    The only way I see you making a profit on your ten acres growing alfalfa is, if alfalfa does in fact grow well in you area and is a common crop there, that you rent your land to someone who is already in the business of growing and baling alfalfa.

    You might ask about sowing alfalfa and growing a crop yourself then “hiring out” the hay baling. This is something that I can not recommend. I’ll reemphasize the fact that I know nothing about alfalfa, but suspect that the time to cut it once it reaches maturity and most assuredly the time it has to be baled after cutting is critical. Remember, you must have hay of desirable quality to even be marketable. With only 10 acres, guess who’s hay field is going have low priority, if you depend on someone else to bale it for you?

    Since you seem to be in the information gathering stage here and new to making hay, maybe, I should include one more warning. Molded alfalfa hay is poisonous, even fatal, to horses even though they will eat it. I have read of horse owners suing hay merchants over the death of some expensive horses. If you decide to go into the hay business you might want to do a little research on what it takes to make horse quality hay.
     
  5. Fordfarm

    Fordfarm Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2005
    My neighbor has 5 acres of alfalfa and puts it up every year with a Jubilee Ford. He cuts, rakes, bales and stacks it all by himself! Good alfalfa hay here will bring $3-$4 a bale and he has come out on top every year he has done it. The first couple of years are pretty sparse (or can be), but if rain, heat, bugs, etc, cooperate he does fine. Don't know about LA, though! Of course, Nebraska is one of the top alfalfa producing states in the nation, so he has plenty of compitition! Learn all you can from your area Extension office and go from there. Hay is hard work, but you can make money at it. In your area, depending on weather, you might get 4 cuttings - I dunno. I've got 6-7 acres here that I am planning to seed with a mix this year. Most of the smaller guys around work the hay with one tractor - you always have time between cutting and raking, tedding, baling and hauling, to switch to the next implement. I do most of mine with my 8N. Not as easy as a more modern tractor,but still works great! Don't know about there, but here you can get the equipment for a small operation at cheap prices at farm sales. Good luck!
     
  6. Chris

    Chris Administrator Staff Member

    Sep 15, 2003
    Well, alfalfa goes for $11.25 per bale down here in LA at feed stores at least. That make in itself make it more of a incentive. I am reviewing some more options now...will let you know!

    Andy
     
  7. OleGrandWizard

    OleGrandWizard New Member

    100
    Jan 8, 2006
    DEfinatly good advice, Andy. Unless you have the equipment, that amount of land is not going to work unless you do it yourself and I cannt imagine you have the time.