How to Plant Alfalfa Grass Seed

Overview

Alfalfa is a flowering grass that resembles clover with small, purple flowers. It is an important foraging crop for cattle because it is high in protein and easily digestible. It is often grown as hay and is one of the highest yielding of all foraging crops. Alfalfa is a cool season, perennial grass that grows up to 3 feet tall and lives 3 to 4 years.

Step 1

Choose an area to plant alfalfa with full sun to partial shade that is well-drained and does not collect water. Avoid any area that allows water to stand after a rain.

Step 2

Test the soil. Soil pH should be at least 6.5 to grow alfalfa. For a low soil pH, apply 50 pounds of lime for every 1,000 square feet. If your soil pH is too high, apply 400 pounds of sulfur per acre.

Step 3

Till the ground to a depth of 1/4 inch. Remove all weeds, rocks and other debris. If you are planting using a no-till method, apply a herbicide to the area to destroy the weeds. No-till methods slice a hole into the soil.

Step 4

Spread your alfalfa seeds at a rate of 18 to 20 pounds of seed per acre. Use a mechanical seeder to apply the seed evenly. If you are using a broadcast seeder, apply 20 to 30 pounds of seed per acre because the seed will not be planted as deep.

Step 5

Rake over your seeds or pull a length of chain link fence over the area to cover the seeds. This will prevent the seeds from washing or blowing away. Seeds should be no deeper than 1/4 of an inch deep. No-till planting methods use a press to push the seeds into the soil.

Step 6

Apply a selective herbicide to control weed in the alfalfa. Choose a post-emergent herbicide to destroy the weeds but leave the alfalfa.

Step 7

Water alfalfa with 2 to 3 inches of water daily until the grass has been established. Once the grass begins growing, usually in about a week, decrease watering to every other day.

Things You'll Need

  • Herbicide
  • Rake
  • Chain link fence section
  • Tiller
  • Soil test kit
  • Mechanical seeder
  • Broadcast seeder

References

  • Ag Store: How To Grow Alfalfa
  • University of Arkansas: Planting Methods For Alfalfa
Keywords: growing alfalfa, alfalfa seed, planting alfalfa

About this Author

Melanie Hammontree is a member of the Society for Professional Journalists and has been writing since 2004. Works include publications with "Hall County Crime Examiner," "Player's Press" and "The Gainesville Times." Hammontree has a Master of Business and is working on a Master of Journalism from the University of Tennessee.