Alfalfa growers who invested in hybrid alfalfa technology found a bright spot this year, despite the growing season’s adverse weather. Just as hybridization revolutionized corn production, this technology provides dramatic increases to alfalfa’s genetic yield potential.

Recently released on-farm test plot data show that hybrid alfalfa outperformed traditional varieties 91% of the time and produced an impressive 8.4% yield increase over non-hybrid competitive varieties across the Midwest. That is up nearly a full percentage point from previous years. “Gen-2 HybriForce-2400 hybrid alfalfa plots averaged 4.2 tons per acre over a wide range of field and weather conditions across the Midwest, with some plots yielding more than 7.5 tons per acre,” says Chad Staudinger, Dairyland Seed forage product manager.

The 8.4% yield improvement added up to an average of 0.29 more tons of hay per acre. At current hay prices of $300 per ton, that equals an extra $87 an acre for hay growers.

The results for HybriForce-2400 were even more dramatic in these five areas that suffered some of the worst drought conditions as shown in this chart:

Plot Location # Cuts Gen-2 % Yield Advantage Extra Dry Tons
Joliet, Ill. 3 20.2% 0.89
Wisconsin Dells, Wis. 2 12.6% 0.27
Fox Lake, Wis. 3 11.4% 0.40
Monticello, Wis. 4 7.4% 0.45
Venedy, Ill. 4 7.1% 0.34
Average   11.7%1 0.47

“This data suggests that Gen-2 HybriForce alfalfa hybrids handled the stress better than other varieties,” adds Staudinger.

In addition, results from 22 Wisconsin-only plots show a 9% yield advantage for HybriForce-2400, or an extra 0.31 tons per acre. Hybrid alfalfa outpaced competitors’ varieties 95.5% of the time.

“Given the high price of hay, corn and other feed commodities, it’s easy to see that even small increases in yield add up quickly and make a big difference in your bottom line,” says Staudinger. If you are a dairy producer, that yield increase is also that much hay you don’t need to buy when margins are tight.

“In a year with less than ideal conditions, it’s remarkable to see our yield advantage against competitive varieties increase by 1 percentage point,” notes Staudinger. “It’s important to invest in a variety that will perform well under good conditions, but it’s even better to know that it will perform when conditions are less than ideal, as well.”

1This data was taken from five of the most drought-afflicted alfalfa test plots and demonstrates the ability of Gen-2 HybriForce-2400 to handle adverse conditions.