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ALFALFA.   119

 

late in the fall, as that would leave the crown exposed and apt to be winter-killed.

Like Red Clover, Alfalfa when pastured may cause bloating, especially in cattle and sheep, if the animals do not become accustomed to it gradually. The danger is especially great on wet days or when the plants are moist with dew. It is highly esteemed as a pasture for hogs. If the field is divided into two or three parts and pastured in rotation, Alfalfa is given a chance to recover and a large number of hogs can be fed without injury to the field.

Sowing for hay or pasture: Alfalfa can be sown with or without a nurse crop, according to the climate and the soil. In Ontario barley is generally used. Tests at the experimental farm at Indian Head, Sask., show that in the Prairie Provinces it is advisable to sow without any nurse crop, thus giving the plants the benefit of all the moisture in the ground. The amount of seed to be sown depends upon its quality and the soil, twenty to twenty-five pounds to the acre being considered a reasonable amount. Good stands are obtained by using a smaller amount of seed, but thick sowing will produce hay and pasture of finer quality.

Seed: At present Alfalfa is grown for seed to only a comparatively small extent in Canada. Its successful cultivation depends above all on the weather during flowering and ripening time. If moisture is abundant the plant will make a strong development of its vegetative organs and the seed will be insignificant and poor. The heaviest production is obtained when there is only enough moisture in the soil to allow the seed to mature fully. The plants also require plenty of light and room and for this reason a smaller amount of seed should be sown than for hay or pasture; ten to twelve pounds of good seed gives the best results. Any one of the season's crops can be used for seed, although there are several objections to the first cutting. The insects which fertilize the flowers are less numerous then than later, and the seed crop would therefore be rather light. The flowering of the first crop is comparatively uneven, and the quality of the seed is inferior. Leaving the first crop for seed means a loss in hay, because after Alfalfa has produced seed the amount of hay or pasture that can be secured is rather small. For these reasons, it is advisable to cut the first crop for hay. Which of the subsequent crops should be used for seed will depend upon the length of the season and the weather. In Canada, the second crop will give the best results.


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