NDSU Main Station * North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station
NORTH DAKOTA ALFALFA PERFORMANCE TESTS IN 2002
North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station
D. W. Meyer, R. D. Nudell, J. R. Lukach, and J. D. Berdahl
The 2001-02 winter was very mild with November thru February temperatures nearly 10oF above normal, but the spring was cold and wet delaying early growth of alfalfa. No snow cover occur until into February. The alfalfa was growing great on January 8, but by March 5 the above-ground growth was completely killed, which further delayed spring growth. However, winter kill was not detected at Fargo. The first harvest was 2 to 3 weeks behind normal due to the winter injury and cool spring temperature. Significant winter kill occurred on Shaw at Langdon. Temperatures during the growing season were near normal except warm temperature the first 10 days of July and below normal temperature during mid August.
Rainfall was 1.2 to 2.6 inches above normal for May through August, was well distributed, and was 5.2 inches or 24% above normal for the alfalfa growing season (October 2001 to September 30, 2002). Therefore, alfalfa growing conditions were very good for most of the growing season.
Forage yield data for alfalfa cultivars and experimental tines tested in North Dakota are presented in the next nine pages. Disease were not consider a significant production factor, but potato leafhopper infestations were great enough to warrant application of an insecticide on 2002 new seeding. Soil erosion from adjacent fallow areas and deposition on test areas increased the CV in the 1999 and 2001 seedings at Fargo during the first harvest.
Alfalfa forage yields at Fargo were exceptional for the seventh straight year. Forage yields averaged from 6.62 to 7.27 tons/acre across Fargo and Carrington experiments. The 6.62 tons/acre yield for the 1999 seeding at Carrington is nearly 2.5 tons/acre higher than normal in the third year of production. Seeding-year forage yields at Fargo was 3.8 tons/acre, slightly above average. Forage yields at Langdon were near normal in the second production year and exceptional during 2001.
John Berdahl at the Northern Great Plains Research Center at Mandan, ND, is evaluating persistence and 1-cut forage yields at two locations. Forage yields at Streeter were very similar to the previous three years even though drought was common in the area. A new seeding at Mandan had relatively low yields compared to a previous experiment due to the drought.
The 2002 North Dakota alfalfa hay crop was estimated November 14 at 1.88 million tons, only 56% of the 2001 crop, by the North Dakota Agricultural Statistical Service. Per acre yield at 1.16 tons/acre is only 58% of last year and significantly less than the previous 10-year average of 1.9 tons/acre. Harvested alfalfa acreage was estimated at 1.46 million acres, down slightly from the previous three years. Persistent cultivars that yield greater than Vernal are recommended for hay production in North Dakota.
Go to Main Station 2002 Variety Trial Index