Tshepiso Jantjies, Dryharts, Taung, North West
We have started with our seventh harvest/cut since we planted the lucerne last year in July/August. A good crop of lucerne can be harvested for five to seven years, especially if you have a good fertilisation and irrigation programme.
We irrigate a minimum of eight times a month and apply LAN at a rate of five 50kg bags per hectare, depending on the condition of the lucerne. When the crop looks good, this may be reduced to three bags per hectare. We cut the lucerne every four weeks but must stop harvesting in the winter months, from May to July, while the crop rests.
Lucerne doesn’t grow during winter and harvesting would damage it. I have just taken off my first cut since winter and will let it dry for a day. On the second day, we rake it and then we’ll leave it there for another two to three days before baling.
You shouldn’t leave the lucerne to dry for too long as you may lose a lot of the leaf. It’s better to bale when the moisture content is between 30% and 40%. After baling, we grade it using feed analysers, which would indicate which grade we make. We normally take out prime grade, which is a top grade that is two times higher in protein concentration, as well as A grade, which is good quality too.