By Jeff Guy

Newton Kansan

For the past week, local farmers have -- at long last -- been able to take advantage of dry weather. They have been cutting alfalfa.

Farmers cut alfalfa three or four times a year, but the third cutting was delayed by around a month, due to the constant rain, said Ryan Flaming, Harvey County extension agent. As a result, much of the alfalfa being cut now is past its peak in maturity.

"Right now they're cutting a high volume, but it won't be a high quality," Flaming said. "The stems are courser, but it's still good feed, just more for beef cattle."

The higher quality alfalfa, cut in its prime, is better for horses and dairy cattle, Flaming said.

Ideally, the alfalfa would be cut when there is a good mixture of "high quality" and "high quantity" in the fields. That would be when about a third of the alfalfa is sprouting a purple color and starting to bloom, Flaming said.

While the cutting might not have taken place at its most ideal time, at least it was cut before Sep. 1.

"You don't want to cut again after Sept. 1 because you want to be able to stockpile nutrients in the roots before the freeze," Flaming said.

Much of the alfalfa being cut now may not be high quality, but it's not disastrous, Flaming said.

"It'll make decent hay, nothing horrific," Flaming said. "Farmers just have to get used to later cutting than they wanted for this year."