How to Evaluate Alfalfa Stands for Winterkill

There are few things I love more than the smell of fresh cut hay. The joy of that smell for some comes from the incredible value a high-producing alfalfa field creates. But while alfalfa stands can produce for several years, each winter takes its toll on the crop, and a careful evaluation of production potential of the stand needs to be done each spring. Why? Because the sooner you know that stand is going to under perform, the sooner you can develop a plan to either nurse it along, bump yield or plan for seeding a replacement stand.

In this interview, Glenn Friesen, provincial forage specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, shows Lyndsey Smith, editor of, how to scout and assess early re-growth of alfalfa and mixed-species stands. From crown symmetry, to root health and stem counts, to rhizobia evaluation, Friesen gives us the step by step process to assess winterkill levels and production potential of the stand.

Also in this video, Friesen offers tips for supporting growth this year, even for poorer stands. This is especially important in years, like this one, where both pasture and forage in general are short in many areas.

If you cannot see the embedded video, click here.


Lyndsey Smith

Lyndsey Smith is a field editor for RealAgriculture. A self-proclaimed agnerd, Lyndsey is passionate about all things farming but is especially thrilled by agronomy and livestock production.


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