Calculating Alfalfa Stand Quality

Apr 27, 2021

PEAQ Method

Pick 3 (or more) representative 2-square foot locations (1 ft x 2 ft) in the field to check these 3 things:

  1. Count the number of stems in the 2 square foot square area (optimal density requires at least 45/square foot; you can visually estimate this once your practiced).
  2. Using a yard stick or other height stick, measure the height of the tallest alfalfa stem by stretching it out straight. Measure to the top of the stem, rather than to the top of the uppermost leaf.
  3. Determine the maturity:
    1. Vegetative (no buds visible on any stems)
    2. Bud (at least 1 bud visible on at least one stem)
    3. Flower (at least one flower visible on at least one stem)
Then use the below chart to determine the expected RFV of your field. Subtract about 20 points for expected loss of quality during wilting and harvest to determine what you might expect to put into the bunker and feed to your herd.
Length of tallest stem Stage of most mature stem
Vegetative Bud Flower
(inches) RFV
16 237 225 210
17 230 218 204
18 224 212 198
19 217 207 193
20 211 201 188
21 205 196 183
22 200 190 178
23 195 185 174
24 190 181 170
25 185 176 166
26 180 172 162
27 175 168 158
28 171 164 154
29 167 160 151
30 163 156 147
31 159 152 144
32 155 149 140
33 152 145 137
34 148 142 134
35 145 139 131
36 142 136 128
37 138 133 126
38 135 130 123
39 132 127 121
40 129 124 118

Kristina Weld, MS, PhD

Dairy Nutritionist

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