Final Year Results of the 1996 to 2000 Alfalfa Variety Trial

Eric P. Eldredge, Clinton C. Shock, and Lamont D. Saunders

Malheur Experiment Station

Oregon State University

Ontario, OR, 2000

        

Introduction

The purpose of this alfalfa variety trial was to compare forage productivity of alfalfa varieties over a 5-year life of stand, based on four cuttings per year. Thirty-two varieties were originally entered in the trial, three were terminated by their proprietors, and two others, 'Nitro' and 'CUF101', died in the winter of 98-99. This report gives the 5-year yields and fifth year quality results for the remaining 27 varieties.

Materials and Methods

The trial was established in August of 1995 following a wheat crop on Nyssa silt loam, a bench soil generally considered moderately productive. Preplant fertilizer phosphorus at 253 lb/acre plus sulfur at 200 lb/acre was disked into the soil. Plots were 5 ft wide by 20 ft long, replicated four times in a randomized complete block design. The trial was sprinkler irrigated, except for three furrow irrigations in June of 1996. Each year after establishment, the trial was mowed during the late fall to reduce cover for rodents and improve herbicide spray penetration to the soil. Gramoxone at 1.6 pint/acre plus Sencor at one pint/acre was applied as a tank-mix to dormant alfalfa each year during late winter for weed control. Plots were hand weeded on May 2 and June 6, 2000. Irrigations in 2000 were scheduled by Watermark (Irrometer Co. Inc., Riverside, CA) soil moisture sensors to maintain soil water potential greater than -60 centibars.

Hay cutting dates were May 22, June 23, July 27, and August 31, 2000. At each cutting date, moisture content was determined by taking 10 forage samples at random throughout the trial. Forage samples for moisture content were weighed immediately, dried in a forced-air dryer at 140°F, and weighed after drying to determine the moisture content of the hay for each cutting date. Yield samples were taken by harvesting a 3-ft by 20-ft swath from the center of each plot using a flail mower and weighing the sample.

Samples of approximately 20 stems were taken from each plot on the second cutting date, dried, and ground to powder. Forage quality was analyzed by near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) to estimate percentages of crude protein (CP), acid detergent fiber (ADF), and neutral detergent fiber (NDF). Relative feed value (RFV) was calculated by the formula:

RFV = {[88.9 - (ADF * 0.779)] * (120 / NDF)} / 1.29

Quality standards based on RFV are: Prime, RFV higher than 151; No. 1, RFV 151 to 125; No. 2, RFV 124 to 103; No. 3, RFV 102 to 87; No. 4, RFV 86 to 75; and No. 5, RFV less than 75 (Undersander, et al. 1991). A higher RFV means less grain or feed concentrate is required to formulate the dairy ration.

Results

The 2000 average total yield, in the fifth year of the trial, was 8.91 ton/acre, based on hay at 12 percent moisture content (Table 1). First cutting yield was highest, with an average of 3.61 ton/acre, and yield declined with each additional cutting. In the ranking by fifth year total yield, varieties in the top two-thirds yielded better than varieties in the bottom one-third. No significant differences were found in forage quality of early bloom stage second cutting hay, with all varieties making dairy quality hay having (RFV) greater than 125.

The total yield averaged over all varieties for the 5-year life of the trial was 44.6 ton/acre, or 8.9 ton/acre/year (Table 2). Varieties did not differ significantly in total yield over the 5 years of the trial because there were not significant differences in the first 3 years. Over the last 2 years of the trial, total hay production was 18 ton/acre or more for 'Laser', 'Sterling', 'ZX9351', 'Orestan', 'Innovator +Z', 'W-L 252HQ', 'Stamina', '92-31F', 'Excalibur II', 'Rushmore', 'MP2000', and '330'. Varieties that produced less than 17 ton/acre in the fourth and fifth year combined were 'Robust', 'Wrangler', 'Ladak', 'UNC 13', 'Tahoe', 'Sevelra', 'Lahontan', and 'Wild Card'. The trend was for some of the older public varieties to yield lower than some of the newer proprietary varieties over the 5 year life of the stand.

Information on the disease, nematode, and insect resistance of the varieties in this trial was provided by the participating seed companies and/or the North American Alfalfa Improvement Council (Table 3). Most of the varieties have some resistance to diseases and pests that could limit hay production in our area. Stem nematode was found in some plots of 'Sevelra' and 'Vernal' in April of 2000. Growers should choose varieties that have stronger resistance ratings for disease or pest problems known to be present in their fields, in addition to demonstrated potential for high yield.

Literature Cited

Undersander, D., N. Martin, D. Cosgrove, K. Kelling, M. Schmitt, R. Becker, C. Grau, and J. Doll. 1991. Alfalfa management guide. ASA-CSSA-SSSA, Madison, WI.

Table 1. Alfalfa variety hay yields and second cutting crude protein*, ADF*, NDF*, and relative feed value for 2000. Malheur Experiment Station, Oregon State University, Ontario, OR.

  Cutting date 2000 Crude     Relative
Variety 5/22 6/23 7/27 8/31 Total protein ADF NDF feed value
  -----------------------ton/acre§-------------------- --------% of DW------ RFV
ZX9351 3.80 2.28 1.95 1.59 9.62 26 29 43 144
330 3.81 2.22 1.96 1.58 9.56 24 31 44 139
Stamina 3.93 2.17 1.95 1.50 9.55 24 33 45 132
Excalibur II 3.91 2.17 1.94 1.51 9.52 24 32 44 135
Innovator +Z 4.04 2.19 1.88 1.40 9.50 25 30 43 143
Laser 4.16 2.02 1.86 1.45 9.49 26 29 42 145
W-L 252HQ 3.96 2.14 1.90 1.46 9.47 26 30 43 143
92-31 F 3.79 2.29 1.84 1.44 9.36 25 32 44 136
Tahoe 3.62 2.23 1.92 1.58 9.34 26 29 42 147
MP2000 3.93 2.05 1.86 1.50 9.33 25 32 44 135
Rushmore 3.78 2.12 1.91 1.53 9.33 25 31 44 139
ABI9252 3.59 2.27 1.91 1.52 9.29 25 30 42 143
ZX9352 3.73 2.21 1.86 1.45 9.25 25 30 43 142
Orestan 3.64 2.30 1.89 1.36 9.19 26 30 42 145
Sterling 3.77 2.08 1.87 1.46 9.18 24 32 44 135
Magnum III 3.61 2.05 1.80 1.44 8.91 24 32 44 135
Robust 3.38 2.22 1.86 1.44 8.90 26 28 43 146
Magnum IV 3.67 1.97 1.80 1.40 8.84 25 31 44 136
Columbia 2000 3.78 1.99 1.77 1.24 8.78 25 31 44 137
Alfagraze 3.69 1.92 1.76 1.37 8.74 25 31 44 138
UN 13 3.40 1.91 1.89 1.53 8.72 24 31 43 141
Wrangler 3.74 1.79 1.70 1.47 8.69 23 34 46 127
Vernal 3.70 1.70 1.69 1.45 8.53 24 32 45 133
Lahontan 3.15 1.86 1.77 1.44 8.22 25 30 43 143
Ladak 3.35 1.85 1.72 1.26 8.17 25 31 44 137
Wild Card 2.88 1.95 1.74 1.44 8.01 24 32 45 134
Sevelra 3.43 1.72 1.66 1.20 8.01 23 33 46 128
Mean 3.61 2.05 1.82 1.43 8.91 25 31 44 139
LSD (0.05) 0.48 0.28 0.18 0.15 0.84 NS†† NS NS NS

*Based on percent dry weight.

ADF: acid detergent fiber.

NDF: neutral detergent fiber.

§Yield at 88 percent dry matter.

DW: dry weight.

††NS: not significant.

Table 2. Forage yield of alfalfa varieties over five years. Malheur Experiment Station, Oregon State University, Ontario, OR, 1996-2000.

            Total 1999  Five-year 
Variety 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 and 2000 Total Average
  -----------------------------------------------ton/acre*----------------------------------------------
Sterling 9.64 10.10 8.88 9.28 9.18 18.46 47.08 9.42
Rushmore 8.78 10.27 9.09 8.54 9.33 17.87 46.02 9.20
MP2000 8.90 10.42 8.83 8.40 9.33 17.73 45.89 9.18
Laser 8.55 9.61 9.11 9.05 9.49 18.54 45.82 9.16
W-L 252HQ 9.48 9.57 8.60 8.60 9.47 18.07 45.72 9.14
330 9.30 9.86 8.59 8.16 9.56 17.72 45.47 9.09
ZX9351 8.42 10.02 8.57 8.82 9.62 18.44 45.44 9.09
Excalibur II 8.91 9.49 9.12 8.38 9.52 17.90 45.42 9.08
Magnum III 9.02 9.49 9.08 8.38 8.91 17.29 44.88 8.98
Columbia 2000 8.75 9.66 9.25 8.43 8.78 17.21 44.87 8.97
Tahoe 9.30 9.93 9.25 6.91 9.34 16.25 44.73 8.95
ZX9352 8.73 9.24 9.23 8.23 9.25 17.48 44.68 8.94
Orestan 8.26 9.06 9.15 8.99 9.19 18.17 44.65 8.93
Innovator +Z 8.87 9.08 8.58 8.60 9.50 18.10 44.63 8.93
Vernal 8.62 9.84 9.04 8.56 8.53 17.09 44.58 8.92
92-31 F 8.66 9.27 8.68 8.58 9.36 17.95 44.55 8.91
Magnum IV 8.21 9.55 9.19 8.71 8.84 17.55 44.50 8.90
UN 13 9.21 9.62 9.12 7.59 8.72 16.31 44.26 8.85
Stamina 8.20 9.01 9.00 8.45 9.55 17.99 44.20 8.84
Alfagraze 8.66 9.34 8.69 8.53 8.74 17.26 43.96 8.79
Wrangler 9.33 9.19 8.48 8.15 8.69 16.84 43.85 8.77
Robust 8.67 9.13 9.14 8.00 8.90 16.90 43.84 8.77
ABI9252 8.86 9.05 8.76 7.74 9.29 17.03 43.70 8.74
Sevelra 9.02 9.67 8.53 8.18 8.01 16.19 43.41 8.68
Ladak 8.47 9.23 8.78 8.45 8.17 16.62 43.09 8.62
Wild Card 8.64 9.60 9.59 7.00 8.01 15.01 42.83 8.57
Lahontan 8.40 9.06 8.66 7.71 8.22 15.93 42.05 8.41
Mean 8.81 9.53 8.93 8.31 8.91 17.33 44.60 8.92
LSD (0.05) NS NS NS 1.2 0.84 1.64 NS NS

*Yield at 88% dry matter

NS: not significant

Table 3. Variety source, year of release, fall dormancy, and level of resistance to pests and diseases, for varieties in the 1996-2000 forage variety trial. Malheur Experiment Station, Oregon State University, Ontario, OR, 2000.
    Release   Resistance rating
Variety Source year FD* BW FW VW PRR AN SAA PA SN AP RKN
Ladak Public 1910 1 - - - - - - - - - -
Sevelra Public 1918 1 LR - - - LR - - - - -
Orestan Public 1934 3 R - - - - - - - - -
Vernal Public 1953 2 R MR - - - - - - - MR
Lahontan Public 1954 6 MR LR - LR - MR LR R - -
Wrangler Public 1984 2 R R LR HR LR HR HR - - -
Magnum III Dairyland Seed 1988 4 R R MR R MR MR R MR LR -
Alfagraze ABI America's Alfalfa 1989 2 MR R - - MR - R R - R
Magnum IV Dairyland Seed 1992 4 HR HR R HR R MR - R MR MR
330 Union Seed 1993 4 HR HR R HR HR R R - R -
Innovator +Z ABI America's Alfalfa 1993 3 HR HR R HR HR - R R - -
Robust Gooding Seed 1993 5 R HR R HR R R R R - MR
Rushmore Northrup King 1993 4 HR HR R HR HR HR R - HR -
Sterling Cargill Hybrids 1993 2 HR HR R HR HR - R - R -
Tahoe Northrup King 1993 6 MR HR R HR HR HR HR - - -
Excalibur II Allied Seed 1994 4 HR HR R HR HR R R - R -
Laser J-V Seeds 1994 4 HR HR R HR R MR - MR MR MR
MP 2000 Cenex/Land O'Lakes 1994 3 HR HR R HR HR R HR   R -
UN 13 Union Seed 1994 7 MR HR MR HR HR HR R - - -
WL 252HQ W-L Research 1994 3 HR HR R HR HR MR - R - -
WL 324 W-L Research 1995 3 HR HR HR HR HR R R MR HR  
ABI 9252 ABI America's Alfalfa 1996 6 R R R R R HR R R - R
Columbia 2000 Allied Seed 1996 2 R R - MR R - MR - - -
Stamina Allied Seed 1996 4 HR HR HR HR HR HR R HR MR HR
ZX9352 ABI America's Alfalfa 1996 5 R HR HR R HR R MR R - R
Wild Card University of Idaho x 8 - - - - - - - - - -
ZX9351 ABI America's Alfalfa x   - - - - - - - - - -

*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).

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

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