Alfalfa Forage Variety Trial, 1996-2000

Eric P. Eldredge, Clinton C. Shock, and Lamont D. Saunders
Malheur Experiment Station
Oregon State University
Ontario, OR

Introduction

Alfalfa forage trials have been conducted at the Malheur Experiment Station for the last five decades. The purpose of this alfalfa variety trial was to compare the hay yield, when harvested for hay with four cuttings per year, of 32 alfalfa varieties over a 5-year life of stand.

Procedures

The variety trial was established in August 1995, following a wheat crop. Preplant fertilizer was 550 lb/acre 0-46-0 plus 200 lb/acre S broadcast and disked into the soil. Plots were 7 rows of alfalfa planted six in apart on beds 60-in wide by 20-ft long. Thirty-two varieties of alfalfa were entered into the trial, each replicated four times in a randomized, complete block experimental design. Alfalfa was seeded August 23, and 1 in of water was applied by sprinkler after planting.

On September 10, Poast at 2 pt/acre and 2,4-DB at 2 qt/acre were applied. On November 11, a tank-mix of Kerb at 2 lb ai/acre plus Sencor at 2 lb ai/acre plus Diuron at 2 lb ai/acre was applied to the border area around the plots. On March 22, Kerb 50W at 1.5 lb ai/acre was applied and incorporated by rainfall that day.

One eight-hour sprinkler irrigation of 2.4 in was applied May 7, and the first cutting was taken May 28. Plots were sampled by cutting a 30-in swath from the center of each plot using a flail mower. The fresh hay was weighed, and the moisture content was determined by drying samples from eight randomly selected plots in a forage dryer. The next irrigation was 2.5 in of water applied June 3 and 4. Another 2.5 inch of water was applied June 18 and 19, and the second cutting was taken July 2. The third cutting was taken July 31, and the fourth cutting was taken September 11, with irrigation applied as needed during the summer.

In the second production year, 1997, the first cutting was May 22. A 36-in swath was cut from the center of each plot using a flail mower. The fresh hay was weighed, and moisture content was determined by drying a sample of hay from each plot in the first three cuttings, and from ten randomly selected plots in the fourth cutting, in a forage dryer. Fresh weight of forage was converted to 88 percent dry matter (DM) for all varieties. Forage quality of each variety was analyzed by near-infrared reflectance spectrophotometer (NIRS) to estimate percentage crude protein (CP) and acid detergent fiber (ADF). Samples of 20 stems were taken from each plot at the third cutting, dried, ground to powder, and submitted for NIRS analysis. The regrowth after the first cutting was flail-mowed May 29, and the field was corrugated for furrow irrigation. The first furrow irrigation was applied June 2, followed by irrigations June 12 and 17. A second cutting was taken July 14. The sprinkler system was reinstalled and the field was sprinkler irrigated July 19, 20, 24, 28, and August 6. The third cutting was taken August 13, followed by sprinkler irrigations August 22 and September 5, and the fourth cutting was taken September 22. Variety differences in yield and quality of third-cutting hay were compared using ANOVA and protected least significant differences at the 5 percent level.

The plot area was mowed with a flail mower and the debris was removed on February 2, 1998, to reduce cover favoring rodents. On March 13, 1.5 pt/acre of Sencor plus 1.5 pt/acre of Gramoxone were applied for weed control. The trial was irrigated using a solid-set sprinkler system to apply 7.25 acre-in/acre of water during each of the three intervals between the first, second, third, and fourth cutting. The alleys were hand-weeded on August 11, and the plots were hand-weeded on August 19. At each of the four cutting dates, June 1, July 9, August 3, and September 11, plots were harvested using a flail mower to cut a 36-in swath from the center of each plot, and the freshly chopped hay from each plot was weighed. Ten random samples of alfalfa were collected before each cutting, weighed fresh, dried in a forced-air dryer at 100 oF, then weighed dry, to calculate the moisture content of the hay. Yields were reported as tons per acre of hay at 88 percent dry matter.

Results and Discussion

The 1996 average total yield of all the alfalfa varieties in the trial for the first year for four cuttings was 8.81 ton/acre, based on 12 percent moisture content (Table 1). Significant differences in yield were found in the third cutting at the 10 percent probability level, and in the fourth cutting at the 5 percent probability level. The low overall first-year yield and lack of detectable differences in total yield among the alfalfa varieties at the beginning of the season may be attributable to non uniform application of the sprinkler irrigation water. In future years the irrigation system will include an additional sprinkler line in the plots to improve application uniformity of the irrigation water.

The average yield of all the alfalfa varieties in the trial for the second year for four cuttings was 9.5 ton/acre, based on 12 percent moisture content (Table 2). Significant differences in yield were found in the first cutting at the 5 percent probability level. The absence of detectable differences in yield among the alfalfa varieties in subsequent cuttings may be attributable to excellent yield potential demonstrated by the cultivars in this trial.

The third production year, 1998, of this trial was influenced by unusual weather. The growing season started out cooler and wetter than normal. The month of May had 4.55 in of precipitation compared to the 50-year mean of 1.02 in. First cutting was delayed by rainy weather until June 1, when the hay was in bloom and over mature for first cutting, with no significant (LSD 0.05) differences in yield (Table 3).

May 1998 had 29 percent fewer and June had 18 percent fewer growing degree days (50-86 °F) than the previous 10-year means. The alfalfa regrowth during June was developing very well, but delayed by the late first cutting and cool weather. Then on July 4, a severe hail storm dropped 1/2-in diameter hailstones for half an hour accompanied by strong wind and rain. The variety trial received the second cutting July 9, but hail damage was severe, and no significant differences in hay yield were measured.

The months of July and August were hotter than normal. The Malheur Experiment Station NOA weather station recorded 11 days with maximum air temperatures of 100 °F or higher compared to the 50-year mean of 5 days for the entire year. There were far more degree days in the above optimal range (86-104 °F) in 1998 compared to the previous 8-year mean: 70 percent more in July and 29 percent more in August. The hot weather in July and August promoted good alfalfa growth, the third cutting was taken August 3, and the fourth cutting was taken September 11. In the third cutting, Wild Card, Rushmore, ABI9252, ZX9351, Innovator+Z, Idaho Gold, Robust, and Ladak were among the highest yielding varieties. In the fourth cutting, the fifteen varieties yielding from 2.06 to 1.88 ton/acre were among the most productive lines. Seasonal yield averaged 8.9 ton/acre over the 32 varieties. Over the first three years of this trial, average yield has differed little between varieties (Table 4).

The information on varieties' resistance to pests was provided by participating seed companies and/or the Certified Alfalfa Seed Council (Table 5). Most of the varieties have some degree of resistance to diseases and pests that could limit hay production in our area. Growers should choose varieties that have stronger resistance ratings for known disease or pest problems in their fields as well as demonstrated potential for high yield.

Table 1. Alfalfa variety trial, first-year forage yields and first-cutting forage protein and ADF, Malheur Experiment Station, Oregon State University, Ontario, OR, 1996.

Variety or blend 1st

5/28

2nd

7/2

3rd

7/31

4th

9/11

1996 Total

Protein

ADF

-----------------------------ton/acre---------------------------------

% %
Sterling 3.44 2.72 1.64 1.84 9.64 20.0 26.0
W-L 252HQ 3.22 2.77 1.49 1.99 9.48 20.4 25.9
Wrangler 3.30 2.58 1.54 1.91 9.33 19.5 28.4
Tahoe 2.83 2.76 1.73 1.98 9.30 19.3 27.1
330 3.51 2.26 1.63 1.91 9.30 19.9 26.5
UN 13 2.92 2.55 1.65 2.09 9.21 19.9 25.2
CUF-101 2.92 2.52 1.73 1.95 9.11 19.9 25.8
Magnum III 3.24 2.35 1.53 1.90 9.02 19.2 27.9
Sevelra 3.02 2.51 1.56 1.93 9.02 18.2 28.9
Excalibur II 3.01 2.33 1.61 1.97 8.91 19.8 27.4
MP 2000 2.80 2.51 1.54 2.05 8.90 19.8 25.1

Innovator +Z

3.16 2.42 1.42 1.87 8.87 19.0 29.0
ABI 9252 2.70 2.54 1.62 2.00 8.86 19.8 26.1
Nitro 2.82 2.49 1.56 1.92 8.79 19.2 28.2
Idaho Gold 2.99 2.32 1.58 1.90 8.78 19.9 27.0
Rushmore 2.91 2.37 1.49 2.02 8.78 19.7 26.8
Gangbusters 2.78 2.42 1.55 2.01 8.76 19.2 26.5
Columbia 2000 2.97 2.29 1.59 1.91 8.75 18.7 28.6

ZX9352

2.70 2.53 1.55 1.95 8.73 19.1 27.4

Robust

3.08 2.14 1.60 1.85 8.67 19.3 26.1
Alfagraze 2.72 2.55 1.51 1.88 8.66 19.4 26.0
92-31F 2.80 2.39 1.59 1.89 8.66 18.8 28.1
Wild Card 2.61 2.46 1.67 1.90 8.64 18.8 27.2
Vernal 2.75 2.49 1.49 1.88 8.62 18.6 28.9
Goliath 2.89 2.11 1.59 1.97 8.57 20.1 26.2
Laser 152 2.83 2.20 1.64 1.89 8.55 19.3 27.5
Ladak 2.94 2.16 1.50 1.88 8.47 19.6 27.1

ZX9351

2.76 2.30 1.49 1.87 8.42 20.3 24.6
Lahontan 2.69 2.21 1.66 1.84 8.40 19.3 26.5
Orestan 2.67 2.21 1.60 1.79 8.26 19.4 27.0
Magnum IV 2.62 2.22 1.45 1.92 8.21 18.7 26.1
Stamina 2.72 2.04 1.49 1.95 8.20 20.4 25.3

Mean

2.91 2.4 1.57 1.93 8.81 19.5 26.9

LSD (0.10)

- - 0.15 - - - 2.3

LSD (0.05)

NS NS NS 0.12 NS 1.1 NS

Yield at 88% dry matter.

NS: not significant.

Table 2. Alfalfa variety trial, second-year forage yields, and third-cutting protein and ADF, Malheur Experiment Station, Oregon State University, Ontario, OR, 1997.
Variety or blend Source 1st 5/19 2nd 7/15 3rd 8/13 4th 9/22 1997 Total Crude protein  

ADF

-------------- ton/acre ----------- ---------%---------

MP 2000

Cenex/Land O' Lakes

3.7 3.0 1.7 1.9 10.4 21.94   33.59

Rushmore

Northrup King

3.7 2.8 1.8 2.0 10.3 22.23   34.23

Sterling

Cargill Hybrids

3.8 2.7 1.8 1.8 10.1 20.86   35.29

ZX9351

ABI America's Alfalfa

3.5 2.5 2.0 2.0 10.0 22.11   34.36
var 330 Union Seed 3.6 2.5 1.8 2.0 9.9 19.41   36.53

Tahoe

Northrup King

3.8 2.5 1.7 1.9 9.9 20.84   35.26

Gangbusters

Ray Brothers

3.8 2.5 1.6 1.9 9.9 20.37   35.47

Vernal

Public

3.5 2.7 1.7 2.0 9.8 20.73   36.29

Sevelra

Public

3.4 2.6 1.7 1.9 9.7 22.17   34.27

Columbia 2000

Allied Seed

3.7 2.5 1.7 1.8 9.7 20.07   36.56

Wild Card

University of Idaho

3.2 2.4 1.9 2.1 9.6 22.57   34.74

W-L 252HQ

W-L Research

3.6 2.3 1.8 1.8 9.6 21.99   34.34

UN 13

Union Seed

3.5 2.5 1.7 1.9 9.6 21.01   35.96

Laser 152

J-V Seeds

3.4 2.5 1.8 2.0 9.6 21.15   35.23

Magnum III

Dairyland Seed

3.5 2.2 1.8 2.0 9.5 22.59   32.88

Magnum IV

Dairyland Seed

3.7 2.0 1.9 2.0 9.5 21.73   34.24

Excalibur II

Allied Seed

3.3 2.5 1.8 1.9 9.5 23.76   31.58

Goliath

Black Canyon Seed

3.8 2.3 1.6 1.8 9.4 22.53   32.66

Alfagraze

ABI America's Alfalfa

3.4 2.4 1.7 1.8 9.3 21.35   34.45

var92-31F

W-L Research

3.2 2.3 1.8 1.9 9.3 21.65   34.78

Wrangler

Public

3.5 2.2 1.6 1.9 9.2 21.46   33.99

Nitro

Public

3.2 2.2 1.9 1.9 9.2 20.54   36.16

Ladak

Public

3.4 2.2 1.8 1.8 9.2 21.66   33.93

Idaho Gold

Black Canyon Seed

3.5 2.1 1.7 1.9 9.2 20.82   35.71

ZX9352

ABI America's Alfalfa

3.4 2.1 1.9 1.9 9.2 21.21   34.67

Robust

Gooding Seed

3.3 2.2 1.7 2.0 9.1 20.91   34.43

Orestan

Public

3.2 2.3 1.7 1.8 9.1 20.02   36.89

Lahontan

Public

3.2 2.3 1.7 1.8 9.1 19.07   36.97

Innovator+Z

ABI America's Alfalfa

3.2 2.1 1.8 1.9 9.1 21.01   34.24

ABI 9252

ABI America's Alfalfa

3.2 2.2 1.7 1.9 9.1 20.4   36.41

Stamina

Allied Seed

3.2 2.3 1.7 1.9 9.0 22.97   32.45

CUF-101

Public

3.1 2.2 1.6 2.0 8.9 21.62   33.35

Mean

3.5 2.4 1.8 1.9 9.5 21.33   34.75

LSD (0.05)

  0.43 NS§ NS NS NS

NS

  NS

CV (%)

8.61 21.16 9.4 9.03 8.31

ADF: acid detergent fiber

§NS : not significant

Yield at 88% dry matter.

Table 3. Third-year alfalfa forage yield, Malheur Experiment Station, Oregon State University, Ontario, OR, 1998.

Variety

Source

1st cut June 1 2nd cut

July 9

3rd cut

August 3

4th cut

Sept. 11

1998 total

hay yield

    ---------------------------------------ton/acre---------------------------------------
Wild Card University of Idaho 2.92 2.84 1.79 2.06 9.59
Idaho Gold Black Canyon Seed 2.76 3.06 1.69 1.98 9.49
Columbia 2000 Allied Seed 2.81 2.86 1.47 1.82 9.25
Tahoe Northrup King 3.17 2.72 1.53 1.82 9.25
Gangbusters Ray Brothers 2.85 2.92 1.61 1.92 9.23
ZX9352 ABI America's Alfalfa 3.09 2.57 1.58 2.00 9.23
Magnum IV Dairyland Seed 2.67 2.96 1.65 1.92 9.19
Orestan Public 2.94 2.71 1.60 1.90 9.15
Robust Gooding Seed 2.54 2.69 1.67 2.00 9.14
Excalibur II Allied Seed 2.71 2.89 1.62 1.91 9.12
UN 13 Union Seed 2.93 2.64 1.61 1.95 9.12
Laser 152 J-V Seeds 2.86 2.92 1.61 1.89 9.11
Rushmore Northrup King 2.74 2.72 1.72 1.90 9.09
Magnum III Dairyland Seed 2.94 2.64 1.55 1.92 9.08
Vernal Public 2.73 2.89 1.57 1.84 9.04
Stamina Allied Seed 2.73 2.88 1.55 1.83 9.00
Sterling Cargill Hybrids 2.56 2.90 1.55 1.88 8.88
MP2000 Cenex/Land O' Lakes 2.69 2.76 1.47 1.91 8.83
Ladak Public 2.73 2.73 1.66 1.82 8.78
Nitro Public 2.49 2.84 1.65 1.78 8.77
ABI9252 ABI America's Alfalfa 2.49 2.73 1.71 1.83 8.76
Alfagraze ABI America's Alfalfa 2.88 2.53 1.45 1.82 8.69
92-31 F W-L Research 2.70 2.75 1.60 1.75 8.68
Lahontan Public 2.51 2.78 1.61 1.76 8.66
W-L 252HQ W-L Research 2.80 2.59 1.45 1.76 8.60
330 Union Seed 2.50 2.75 1.52 1.82 8.59
Innovator +Z ABI America's Alfalfa 2.57 2.59 1.69 1.86 8.58
Goliath Black Canyon Seed 2.67 2.48 1.55 1.88 8.57
ZX9351 ABI America's Alfalfa 2.59 2.62 1.69 1.67 8.57
Sevelra Public 2.63 2.53 1.53 1.84 8.53
Wrangler Public 2.68 2.63 1.34 1.83 8.48
CUF 101 Public 2.20 2.68 1.64 1.71 8.24
Mean   2.72 2.74 1.59 1.86 8.92
LSD (0.05)   NS NS 0.13 0.18 NS

Yield at 88% dry matter.

NS: not significant.

Table 4. Forage yield of 32 alfalfa varieties over three years. Oregon State University, Malheur Experiment Station, Ontario, OR, 1996-1998.

Variety

1996

1997

1998

3-year total 3-year

average

--------------------tons/acre--------------------
Sterling 9.6 10.1 8.9 28.6 9.5
Tahoe 9.3 9.9 9.3 28.5 9.5
MP 2000 8.9 10.4 8.8 28.1 9.4
Rushmore 8.8 10.3 9.1 28.2 9.4
330 9.3 9.9 8.6 27.8 9.3
Gangbusters 8.8 9.9 9.2 27.9 9.3
UN 13 9.2 9.6 9.1 27.9 9.3
Wild Card 8.6 9.6 9.6 27.8 9.3
Columbia 2000 8.8 9.7 9.3 27.8 9.2
Excalibur II 8.9 9.5 9.1 27.5 9.2
Idaho Gold 8.8 9.2 9.5 27.5 9.2
Magnum III 9.0 9.5 9.1 27.6 9.2
Vernal 8.6 9.8 9.0 27.4 9.2
W-L 252HQ 9.5 9.6 8.6 27.7 9.2
Laser 152 8.6 9.6 9.1 27.3 9.1
Sevelra 9.0 9.7 8.5 27.2 9.1

ZX9352

8.7 9.2 9.2 27.1 9.1
Magnum IV 8.2 9.5 9.2 26.9 9.0

Robust

8.7 9.1 9.1 26.9 9.0
Wrangler 9.3 9.2 8.5 27.0 9.0

ZX9351

8.4 10.0 8.6 27.0 9.0
92-31F 8.7 9.3 8.7 26.7 8.9
ABI 9252 8.9 9.1 8.8 26.8 8.9
Alfagraze 8.7 9.3 8.7 26.7 8.9

Innovator +Z

8.9 9.1 8.6 26.6 8.9
Nitro 8.8 9.2 8.8 26.8 8.9
CUF-101 9.1 8.9 8.2 26.2 8.8
Goliath 8.6 9.4 8.6 26.6 8.8
Ladak 8.5 9.2 8.8 26.5 8.8
Orestan 8.3 9.1 9.2 26.6 8.8
Lahontan 8.4 9.1 8.7 26.2 8.7
Stamina 8.2 9.0 9.0 26.2 8.7

Mean

8.8 9.5 8.9 27.2 9.1

LSD (0.05)

NS NS NS NS NS

Yield a 88% dry matter.

NS: not significant.

Table 5. Variety source, year of release, and fall dormancy pest, and disease resistance ratings, 32 varieties, forage variety trial. Malheur Experiment Station, Oregon State University, Ontario OR, 1996-2000.

Variety

Source

Release Resistant rating
    Year FD§ BW FW VW PRR AN SAA PA SN AP RKN
Ladak Public 10 1 - - - - - - - - - -
Sevelra Public 18 1 LR - - - LR - - - - -
Orestan Public 34 3 R - - - - - - - - -
Vernal Public 53 2 R MR - - - - - - - MR
Lahontan Public 54 6 MR LR - LR - MR LR R - -
CUF-101 Public 76 9 - - - MR - HR HR - - -
Wrangler Public 83 2 R R LR HR LR HR HR - - -
Nitro Public 86 8 - - - R - MR - - - -
Magnum III Dairyland Seed 88 4 R R MR R MR MR R MR LR -
Alfagraze ABI America's Alfalfa 89 2 MR R - - MR - R R - R
Magnum IV Dairyland Seed 92 4 HR HR R HR R MR - R MR MR
330 Union Seed 93 4 HR HR R HR HR R R - R -
Goliath Black Canyon Seed 93 3 HR R R R R MR R - - -
Idaho Gold Black Canyon Seed 93 4 R R MR R - MR - - - -
Innovator +Z ABI America's Alfalfa 93 3 HR HR R HR HR - R R - -
Robust Gooding Seed 93 5 R HR R HR R R R R - MR
Rushmore Northrup King 93 4 HR HR R HR HR HR R - HR -
Sterling Cargill Hybrids 93 2 HR HR R HR HR - R - R -
Tahoe Northrup King 93 6 MR HR R HR HR HR HR - - -
Excalibur II Allied Seed 94 4 HR HR R HR HR R R - R -
Gangbusters Ray Brothers 94 4 HR R R R MR   R R - -
Laser 152 J-V Seeds 94 4 HR HR R HR R MR - MR MR MR
MP 2000 Cenex/Land O' Lakes 94 3 HR HR R HR HR R HR   R -
UN 13 Union Seed 94 7 MR HR MR HR HR HR R - - -
W-L 252HQ W-L Research 94 3 HR HR R HR HR MR - R - -
ABI 9252 ABI America's Alfalfa 96 6 R R R R R HR R R - R
Columbia 2000 Allied Seed 96 2 R R - MR R - MR - - -
Stamina Allied Seed 96 4 HR HR HR HR HR HR R HR MR HR
ZX9352 ABI America's Alfalfa 96 5 R HR HR R HR R MR R - R
92-31F W-L Research - 3 HR HR HR HR HR R R MR HR  
Wild Card University of Idaho - 8 - - - - - - - - - -
ZX9351 ABI America's Alfalfa -   - - - - - - - - - -
FD:Fall Dormancy, BW:Bacterial Wilt, FW:Fusarium wilt, VW:Verticillium wilt, PRR:Phytophthora Root Rot, AN:Anthracnose, SAA:Spotted Alfalfa Aphid, PA:Pea Aphid, SN:Stem Nematode, AP:Aphanomyces, RKN:Root Knot Nematode (Northern).

§Fall Dormancy: 1=Norseman, 2=Vernal, 3=Ranger, 4=Saranac, 5=DuPuits, 6=Lahontan, 7=Mesilla, 8=Moapa 69, 9=CUF 101.

Pest Resistance Rating: >50%=HR (high resistance), 31-50%=R (resistant), 15-30%=MR (moderate resistance), 6-14%=LR (low resistance).