North Dakota State University * Dickinson Research Extension Center
1089 State Avenue, Dickinson, ND 58601-4642 Voice: (701) 483-2348 FAX: (701) 483-2005


Alfalfa Variety Performance
at the Dickinson Research Extension Center - Manning Ranch, ND

Roger Ashley, Agronomist
Lee Tisor, Research Specialist
Garry Ottmar, Research Specialist

Abstract

Dry matter yields from 23 different alfalfa varieties grown at the Dickinson Research Extension Center - Manning Ranch were compared under dryland conditions. No significant differences in dry matter yield were detected at the 5% level.

Introduction

In 1996, North Dakota counties south and west of the Missouri River produced alfalfa hay on 778,500 acres with an average yield of 1.6 tons per acre. New varieties with improved agronomic characteristics have been released. Producers are questioning whether the new varieties will produce as much as Vernal, a common public variety. Little information is available on performance of these new varieties under a limited water environment such as that which is found in southwestern North Dakota.

Procedure

Representatives from Cenex, Northrup King, Agri-Pro, Interstate, Pioneer, and Cargill provided varieties that they thought to be adapted to western North Dakota in 1995 (Table 1). In addition to the commercial varieties seeded in 1995, three public varieties were included. In 1996, DeKalb, Keltgen Seed, and Northrup King provided seed of additional varieties (Table 1). Varieties were seeded in a randomized complete block design to evaluate potential difference in dry matter yield. Vernal, a public variety which is commonly grown, was used as a check variety in both plantings.

Plots were seeded into standing oat stubble that had been hayed the preceding year. Glyphosate (Roundup) was applied as a "burn down" herbicide to control early season weed growth prior to direct seeding with a John Deere 750 no-till drill. Forty pounds of 18-46-0 was placed with the seed.

Two cuttings were made in 1997. Cutting dates were June 10, for the first cutting and July 25, for the second cutting. A flail forage plot harvester was used to cut samples from a measured area in each plot. Samples were then oven dried to determined the percent dry matter weight, yield and relative yield calculated.

Results and Discussion

The 1995 entries produced a total average yield of 3.6 tons per acre from two cuttings in the initial year of seeding (data not shown). In 1996, both the 1995 seeding and the 1996 seeding produced one cutting. The 1995 seeding produced an average yield of 1.5 tons per acre and the 1996 seeding produced less than 1.0 ton per acre (data not shown).

No significant differences between varieties were detected at the 5% level for first and second cutting and for total yield produced for 1997 (Table 2). Yield of first cutting alfalfa was affected by below normal precipitation in May and early June. First cutting was made when alfalfa plants were in 20% bloom, wilting, dropping leaves and going into dormancy due to the lack of stored soil water and precipitation. Toward the end of June and during July, above normal precipitation was received and helped produce and average yield of 1.3 to 1.5 ton per acre for the second cutting. Total yields of 1.9 to 2.1 ton per acre in 1997 exceeded 1996 yields.

It is interesting to note that first cutting yield of Vernal in the 1996 seeding exceeded that of the same variety in the 1995 seeding. Probably the root system in the 1996 seeding would not have been as well developed in 1996 as the 1995 seeding and therefore would not have utilized as much stored soil moisture as the 1995 seeding. In 1997, root development continued and extracted moisture stored from previous years.

Water is a limiting factor that my prevent improved alfalfa varieties from exhibiting superior performance. During growing seasons with above normal precipitation which fully meed the requirements of alfalfa and fertility is sufficient, improved varieties may out perform older varieties.

 

Table 1. Agronomic characteristics of selected alfalfa varieties grown at the Dickinson Research Extension Center Ranch, Manning, ND.

Variety Company FD BW VW FW AN PR SA PA SN AP NR
120 DeKalb 3 hr - r lr r - r - - -
5262 Pioneer Hi-Bred 2 hr lr mr - r r r mr - -
5364 Pioneer Hi-Bred 4 r mr r mr mr hr hr r -
5454 Pioneer Hi-Bred 4 r mr hr hr hr r r mr lr -
Allegiance Keltgen Seed/Lynks Seed 3 4 4 4 hr r r r r - -
Avalanche +z America’s Alfalfa 2 hr hr hr hr hr r mr r -
Blazer XL Cenex/Land O’ Lakes 3 r r hr hr hr hr r r r -
Cenex 740 Cenex/Land O’ Lakes 3 r r r r - - - - - -
Cenex MG Cenex/Land O’ Lakes 2 1 lr 2 3 - - - - - -
200 Lakes - - - - - - - - - - -
Crown II Cargill 3 hr r hr hr - - - - - -
Cut/Graze Agri-Pro 3 r lr hr mr r - r mr r -
Defiant Agri-Pro 2 hr hr hr r hr - r mr r -
DK 127 DeKalb 3 hr r r hr hr hr hr r hr r
Ladak 65 Public 1 mr s s s - - - - - -
LegenDairy Cenex/Land O’ Lakes 2.5 hr hr hr hr hr - - - - -
NK 919 Rangeland Northrup King blend - - - - - - - - - -
NK 919-10 Northrup King blend - - - - - - - - - -
Proof Keltgen Seed 3 hr r hr hr hr r r  - r -
Rainier Northrup King 3 hr r hr hr hr hr hr r hr r
Ranger Public 3 - - - - - - - - - -
Spreador III Northrup King 1 hr mr hr r mr s mr mr s -
Sterling Cargill 2 hr r hr hr hr r r - r -
Vernal Public 2 r - mr - -   -      -     -    -   mr

 

Column headings

FD = Fall Dormancy
BW = Bacterial Wilt
VW = Verticillium Wilt
FW = Fusarium Wilt
AN = Anthracnose Race 1
PR = Phytophthora Root Rot
SA = Spotted Alfalfa Aphid
PA = Pea Aphid
SN = Stem Nematode
AP = Aphanomyces Root Rot Rate 1
NR = Northern Root Knot Nematode

Pest resistance ratings

% Resistance Plants Resistance Class
0-5% Susceptible (s)
6-14% Low Resistance (lr)
15-30% Moderate Resistance (mr)
31-50% Resistance (r)
< 50% High Resistance (hr)

 

 

Fall Dormancy Ratings

Check Variety Dormancy Rating

Norseman = 1
Vernal =  2
Ranger = 3
Saranac = 4
Dupuits =  5

 

Table 2. 1997 dry matter yields of alfalfa varieties at Manning, North Dakota.

Entry

Cutting Date

-

Relative Yield

-

6/10

7/25

Total

6/10

7/25

Total

-----tons dry matter/acre-----

-------% of Vernal------

1995 Planting
Sterling

0.52

1.74

2.26

124

123

123

Ranger

0.58

1.61

2.19

1.38

114

120

Blazer XL

0.71

1.41

2.12

169

100

116

Defiant

0.49

1.58

2.07

117

112

113

NK919 Rangeland

0.57

1.50

2.07

136

106

113

5364

0.50

1.50

2.00

119

106

109

Spreador III

0.32

1.63

1.95

76

116

107

5262

0.33

1.61

1.94

79

114

106

740

0.45

1.44

1.89

107

102

103

MG 2000

0.38

1.47

1.85

90

104

101

Vernal

0.42

1.41

1.83

-

-

-

NK919-10

0.37

1.45

1.82

88

103

99

Avalanche + z

0.40

1.37

1.77

95

97

97

Cut/Graze

0.29

1.40

1.69

69

99

92

LegenDairy

0.30

1.34

1.64

71

95

90

Crown II

0.35

1.28

1.63

83

91

89

Ladak

0.29

1.27

1.56

69

90

85

Mean

0.43

1.47

1.90

- - -
LSD .05

NS

NS

NS

- - -
CV%

38.5

12.6

15.4

- - -
1996 Planting
120

0.94

1.49

2.43

108

108

108

Vernal

0.87

1.38

2.25

-

-

-

Proof

0.81

1.31

2.12

93

95

94

Rainier

0.84

1.28

2.12

97

93

94

5454

0.83

1.25

2.08

94

91

92

Allegiance

0.71

1.23

1.94

82

89

86

DK 127

0.65

1.16

1.81

75

84

80

Mean

0.81

1.30

2.11

- - -
LSD .05

NS

NS

NS

- - -
CV%

14.0

9.3

10.7

- - -

Precipitation (inches)
April -- 2.89; May -- 0.95; June -- 5.02; July -- 5.41

Average Estimated Plant Available Water
May 8, 1997 - 1.80"

Stage of Development:
1st cutting ~ 20% bloom and wilting due to dry soil conditions; 2nd cutting ~ 40% bloom.


Back to 1998 Research Reports Table of Contents
Back to Research Reports
Back to Dickinson Research Extension Center
(http://www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/dickinso/)
Email: drec@ndsuext.nodak.edu