The alfalfa varieties that are sold today have gone through evaluations to determine levels of resistance to diseases. The diseases for which varieties are screened include:
- Bacterial wilt
- Phytophthora root rot
- Verticillium wilt
- Aphanomyces (APH) race 1 and 2
- Stem/bulb nematode
Alfalfa producers should be aware that alfalfa seedlings can be susceptible to Phytophthora root rot and Pythium even though they may be resistant as mature plants, and that selection for disease resistance never guarantees complete protection from disease loss.
Alfalfa varieties are available with a variety of technology traits designed to fit specific needs that are relevant to Michigan. Glyphosate-tolerant alfalfa, patented as Roundup Ready, is a technology that enables applications of the broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup or its equivalent for weed control without harming the alfalfa crop. Potato leafhopper resistance is imparted by multiple factors, including sticky leaf hairs that bar feeding by nymphs and adults of the insect. Varieties with the branched root trait will tolerate wetter conditions and should be considered if field drainage is marginal. However, alfalfa is never a good forage choice for a poorly drained field. Varieties with the StandFast trait exhibit improved standability and fast regrowth for high yields with less harvest loss to lodging.
Whatever the circumstances are for your farm, careful consideration of the seed options should be analyzed to insure you get the best variety to meet your specific goals. Because the status of many alfalfa fields regarding winterkill will be determined in the next few weeks, if there are problems, planting intentions may change dramatically and alfalfa seed demand will quickly escalate. Waiting until the last minute may result in the variety you want being sold out or low in inventory and unavailable. If this happens, producers should have a plan in place if the variety they want is not available.
To find a complete list of alfalfa varieties tested in Michigan, click here. Plan ahead and pay attention to detail to ensure you have the best results possible.