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NORTH DAKOTA ALFALFA PERFORMANCE TESTS IN 2000
North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station

D.W. Meyer, W.E. Norby, and J.D. Berdahl

The 1999-00 winter was very mild for North Dakota with November, December, February, and March average temperatures greater than 9.0oF above normal. All cold temperature outbreaks were preceded by 2+ inches of snow, which protected the alfalfa crowns. As a result little, if any, winter injury occurred. However, forage yields of the 4-cut systems in experiments seeded in 1997 at both Carrington and Fargo and in 1995 at Fargo are impacted by winter injury/kill that occurred during the 1998-99 winter.

Rainfall was 9.9 inches or 51% above normal for the alfalfa season (October 1999-September 2000). Rainfall during June was 11.7 inches or 416% above normal, 9.7 inches occurring during the middle 10 days of June, which cause extensive flooding. Flooding was not a problem on the varietal trials however. Rainfall the rest of the growing season was well distributed.

Forage yield data for alfalfa cultivars and experimental lines tested in North Dakota are presented in the next 10 pages. Insects and diseases were not considered a significant problem in 2000. Alfalfa blotch leafminer problems observed in 1998 and 1999 were nonexistent in 2000, symptoms of this insect's activity were less than for the previous 5 years.

Forage yields on dryland at Fargo were exceptional for the fifth straight year even with the winter injury/kill that occurred in 1998-99. Average forage yields in 2000 experiments ranged from 6.4 to 6.9 tons/acre with some cultivars greater than 7 tons/acre. Average 3-year forage yield in the 1997 seeding was in excess of 7 tons/acre annually, nearly a ton/acre higher than ever before. The highest yielding cultivar was 5312 at 25.1 tons/acre for the seeding and three production years. Seeding year forage yield at Fargo averaged 4.4 tons/acre, about 0.5 tons/acre higher than ever previously reported. Needless-to-say, an exceptional year and 3-year period.

Irrigated forage yield at Carrington in 2000 was 1.1 tons/acre higher than normal for the 1997 seeding for the third production year. First-year forage yields were also very good averaging 1.1 tons/acre higher than normal.

John Berdahl at the Northern Great Plains Research Lab at Mandan is evaluating persistence and 1-cut forage yields of several entries. Data from two locations are included.

Varietal response to varying management regimes is compared in the 1995 seeding. Data to date indicates a very strong variety by management interaction, which suggests that relative ranking of varieties in a variety test applies under only the management system used.

The 2000 North Dakota alfalfa hay crop was estimated November 1 at 3.6 million tons, 15% greater than 1999, by the North Dakota Agricultural Statistical Service. The per acre yield at 2.4 tons is up 12% over 1999, which was near the previous record yield. Alfalfa acreage was estimated at 1.5 million acres, the same as the last 2 years. Persistent cultivars that yield greater than Vernal are recommended for hay production in North Dakota.

These data are available on the web at http://www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/fargo/00data/alfalfa.htm or from Dr. Dwain Meyer, Plant Sciences Department, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND 58105-5051.

 

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