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IPM Practices for Forage Crops 
Several important disease, insect, and weed problems can affect profitability of alfalfa production in New York. The most important pests are alfalfa weevil, potato leafhopper, alfalfa snout beetle, Verticillium wilt, Phytophthora root rot, anthracnose, crown rot, and weeds. Some additional pests may occasionally cause economic losses. Integrated pest management (IPM) methods can be used to help minimize the impact of these pests.

Crop monitoring for pest problems is recommended from early May through early September. In areas where alfalfa snout beetles are known or suspected to occur, field monitoring should begin with the first warm days of April. Weekly field monitoring for alfalfa pests is recommended because populations of alfalfa weevil (first cutting) and potato leafhopper (second and later cuttings) can change dramatically over time. Less frequent field monitoring would miss early pest detection opportunities and allow for otherwise avoidable losses.

Diseases, weeds, and other cropping problems should be assessed during regular field monitoring activities for insect problems. Pre- and postseason weed surveys identify potential problems and current and future weed control needs. Information on significant pest damage, including field location, should be recorded to help improve efficiency of future pest management decisions.

See tables below for suggestions on IPM activities and common pests by crop growth stage and seasonal occurrence.

Related Publications: Alfalfa Scouting Procedures Growing Alfalfa the IPM Way, NYS IPM Pub. NO. 305




Early season through first cutting

Population counts (crowns per square foot), weed assessments; alfalfa weevil, winter kill crown rot (established stands); seedling diseases, establishment problems (new seedings); watch for “occasional” pests

Alfalfa snout beetle, Phytophthora root rot, Sclerotinia crown and stem rot, leaf spots, cutworm, boron deficiency

Immediately after first cutting

Population counts (crowns per square foot), alfalfa weevil; watch for “occasional” pests

Downy mildew, Phytophthora root rot, Sclerotinia crown and stem rot, leaf spots

First to second cutting

Potato leafhopper; watch for “occasional” pests

Alfalfa weevil, Phytophthora root rot, Sclerotinia crown and stem rot, leaf spots

Second to last cutting

Potato leafhopper, watch for “occasional” pests

Leaf spots, anthracnose, Verticillium wilt,summer black stem

After last cutting

Weed assessments, population counts (crowns per square foot), soil sampling; watch for “occasional” pests

Alfalfa snout beetle–stressed plants, Sclerotinia crown and stem rot

(Tables above adapted from the Cornell Guide for Integrated Field Crop Management)

Related Links: New York State IPM Program

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