Alfalfa

Alfalfa

Alfalfa is a very complex species. Extensive research and development has resulted in hundreds (if not thousands) of improved varieties. When selecting an alfalfa variety, identify the following characteristics and select what best fits your management style and growing conditions.

  1. Fall Dormancy (FD): Fall dormancy is generally rated from 1 to 9, with 1 being mostly dormant and 9 being non-dormant. FD measures when the plant goes dormant in the fall/winter and comes out of dormancy in the spring. The longer the winters, the lower the FD that is needed. Therefore, FD can measure how many harvests a variety can generate, based on growing season length. A basic guideline is the FD rating equals the number of cuts possible, and then add an additional cut. For example, a FD 4 can produce four to five cuts. There are exceptions, but that rule will help begin to sort out the varieties that are ideal for you situation. In the far North, Northeast, and interior Pacific Northwest, FD 2, 3 or 4 are common. In the lower Midwest, Diary region of PA/NY, and central Plains, a FD rating as high as 5 (with good winter hardiness) can be successfully grown. In the mid-South and Red River Valley, FD up to 7 is used. In the Deep South and Southwest, where temperatures rarely hit freezing, FD 8 and 9 are suitable. Always keep in mind that regardless of what FD varieties are suitable for your location, always select the variety that matches your cutting schedule.
  2. Winter Hardiness Rating (WH): The winter hardiness rating is very important when selecting varieties from I-40 north. Winter survivability has significantly improved in recent years. The scale is from 1 to 5, with 1 being the best. FD 6 and higher varieties are not rated for WH. For FD 5 and lower varieties, there is no reason to settle for anything poorer (higher) than 2.1 WH rating.
  3. Disease Resistance/Rating Index (DRI): The DRI is very important, as most quality varieties are resistant to most common alfalfa diseases. There are six major alfalfa diseases, and each disease is rated in resistance from 1 to 5, with 5 being the best. So if a variety has the highest level of resistance to all six diseases, it would have a perfect rating of 30:30. For FD ratings 5 and higher, don’t settle for anything less than 29:30. Varieties of FD 6 and higher are grown in regions that don’t receive the same disease pressures and are usually only rated on three of the diseases. Check those ratings for the disease present in your area. If you are in a southern location, growing a variety with a FD of 6 or higher, and your stands suffer from diseases that those FD varieties do not tolerate, switch to a FD 5 or 4 that has a better disease package.
  4. Potato Leaf Hopper Tolerance: Some varieties are tolerant of potato leaf hoppers. If you are in the Mississippi River Valley and east and don’t spray your stands for leaf hoppers, or if you have mixed alfalfa-grass stands and don’t spray for leaf hoppers, a leaf hopper resistant variety can be very beneficial. Leaf hoppers can severely affect stand performance.
  5. Roundup Ready (RR) Alfalfa: If you have pure stands that experience tough weed and grass problems, RR alfalfa is a great solution. Even you can control effectively control weeds and grasses in your alfalfa stands with the traditional grass and/or broadleaf herbicides, you may want to consider RR alfalfa. First, glyphosate is cheap. Second, conventional alfalfa is tolerant to those traditional herbicides, but not resistant. Those herbicides still stunt growth and limit yield more than most growers realize. RR alfalfa is completely resistant to glyphosate, and therefore, growth after sprayings is more vigorous. In numerous tests, where the extra cost of the RR alfalfa seed was considered, RR alfalfa netted more profit than conventional alfalfa.

Basic Alfalfa Agronomic Data:   

  • Seeding Rate (Pure Stand): 14-18 lbs/acre
  • Seeding Depth: ¼ inch
  • Forage Quality: Excellent
  • Longevity: Medium-Excellent
  • Winter Hardiness: Varies
  • Drought Tolerance: Excellent
  • Heat Tolerance: Excellent

Alfalfa varieties offered by Heritage Seed:

America's Alfalfa

America's Alfalfa is a nationally respected alfalfa brand that is developed by the same researchers that develop WL Alfalfa, Croplan Genetics and many varieties in other national brands. Heritage Seed distributes the following America's Alfalfa varieties:

Ameristand 201T (FD 2); Ameristand 409LH (FD 3); Ameristand 403T (FD 4); Ameristand 407TQ (FD 4); Archer III (FD 5); Ameristand 433T RR (FD 3); Ameristand 405T RR (FD 4); AlfaGraze 300 RR (FD 3)

Key: LH = Leaf Hopper Tolerance; Q = High Quality; RR = Roundup Ready; T = Traffic Tolerance

America's Alfalfa brand (link to America's Alfalfa website, with tech sheets)

 

Alforex Seeds

Heritage Seed Co. is proud to offer Alforex Alfalfa Products to our customers.  Alforex Seeds address the elements that contribute to a robust alfalfa crop, including high yield, high quality and good agronomics. 

322 LH Brand (FD 3)

Hi-Gest 360 (New Low Lignin),(FD 3)

405 Brand (FD 4)

459 (FD 4)

557 (FD 5)