Performance of Alfalfa in Indiana, 1998-2001 Bulletin B-812
Jeremy W. Sweeten and Keith D. Johnson*
Department of Agronomy
*Research agronomist, and Professor of Agronomy, respectively, Department of Agronomy, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1150
Additional copies of this and other informative publications are
available to Indiana residents from their local Purdue Cooperative
Extension Service Office or by writing:
Additional copies of this and other informative publications are available to Indiana residents from their local Purdue Cooperative Extension Service Office or by writing:
Media Distribution Center
301 South 2nd Street
Lafayette, IN 47905-1092
Phone: (765) 494-6795
This document can also be viewed online at: http://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/forages/
We appreciate the help of the personnel of the participating regional Purdue Agricultural Centers, the Agronomy Research Center, Brad Shelton, Paul Weber, and others that have assisted in these studies. We would like to thank Indiana Agricultural Statistics Service for the data used in Appendix Table 1. Also, we would like to thank the Applied Meteorology Group in the Purdue Agronomy Department for the information included in Appendix Figures 1, 2, and 3 and Appendix Table 2 of this bulletin.
Questions can be directed to:
Jeremy Sweeten Phone: (765) 494-5825
Dept. of Agronomy FAX: (765) 496-2926
1150 Lilly Hall of Life Sciences
West Lafayette, IN 47907-1150
Participating seed companies selected entries to be tested. Seed was sent to Purdue University for planting and evaluation. Commercial entries were obtained through a seed procurement program initiated by the recommendation of the North American Alfalfa Improvement Conference. Experimental entries (i.e. experimental generations) from companies sent to Purdue were accepted into yield tests, with data to be clearly marked as from a non-commercial entry.
Between 1998 and 2001 Purdue University successfully established nine alfalfa performance trials at five locations across Indiana. Test plots were seeded into conventionally prepared seedbeds. Benefin (Balan) herbicide was incorporated into the soil prior to seeding. Seed was inoculated with Rhizobium bacteria and treated with metalaxyl (Apron) fungicide. Plots were seeded with a five-row press-wheel seeder with 6-inch row spacing.
Best management practices were administered to all studies. Optimum pH and fertility were provided and maintained. Alfalfa weevil and potato leafhopper were controlled, if needed, with the systemic insecticide cyfluthrin (Bathyroid 2). When necessary, control of broadleaf or grass weeds was accomplished with application of 2,4D-B (Butyrac), sethoxydim (Poast) and/or imazethapyr (Pursuit) herbicides. Winter-annual weeds were controlled, if needed, on new and established stands with an application of pronamide (Kerb) or metribuzin (Sencor) herbicides, respectively. A flail-type forage harvester was used to harvest plots, generally in late-bud to early-flower stage. Hand samples were utilized for dry matter determination.
Location of Tests
Figure 1 shows the five locations of the reported trials. The following is information about each location.
The Pinney Purdue Agricultural Center is located near Wanatah in Porter and LaPorte Counties (Jon D. Leuck, superintendent). The study seeded in 1999 (Table 5 and 9) is on a Sebawa loam soil on a 0-2% slope, formed in loamy glacial outwash.
The Northeast Purdue Agricultural Center is located near Columbia City in Whitley County (Philip C. Walker, superintendent). A Boyer sandy loam soil with a 2-6% slope is the site of the 1998 seeded trials (Table 2).
The Purdue Agronomy Research Center is located near West Lafayette in Tippecanoe County (James J. Beaty III, superintendent). The 1998, 1999, and 2000 seeded trials are on a Rockfield silt loam soil with a 0-2 % slope (Tables 3, 6, and 7).
The Southeast Purdue Agricultural Center is located near Butlerville in Jennings County (Donald J. Biehle, superintendent). The 1999 seeded studies (Table 4 and 8) are on an Avonburg silt loam soil with a 0-2% slope.
The Feldun-Purdue Agricultural Center is located near Bedford in Lawrence County (Richard M. Huntrods, superintendent). The 1998 seeded study (Table 1) is on a Muren silt loam (1-3% slope) soil, formed from loess.
Figure 1. Locations of alfalfa performance trials in Indiana
(Refer to Appendix Figures 1, 2, and 3 and Appendix Table 2 for more information.)
Early season rains in 1998 made establishing alfalfa stands difficult and delayed the first cutting. The late fall permitted the fourth cutting at most locations, except at Bedford where dry conditions in late summer slowed regrowth. With adequate rains and warm temperatures, fall growth was excellent.
The 1999 season started out excellent at most sites, with planting of new plots completed in a timely fashion. Excessive rainfall damaged the emerging stand at the Lafayette site enough that it was destroyed and was re-seeded in the spring of 2000. After the first harvest, rainfall diminished and later developed into extreme drought at all sites. The water-holding capacity of various soils became a factor in the regrowth of the alfalfa plants. Due to the differences in soil type and the lack of adequate rainfall, all sites had low harvest numbers. The shortage of soil moisture continued through the fall season, thus leaving the plots very dry going into the winter months.
The spring of 2000 started with very favorable planting conditions at all sites. With the greatly reduced entry numbers, only the Lafayette location was seeded. The 1999 Lafayette trial replant was successful, but the 2000 seeding was damaged by a very heavy rainfall, and replanted in August. With the variability of weather patterns across the state; the northern sites were only harvested three times, the central sites harvested four, and the southeast location five. Fall rains provided good moisture levels to enter the winter season.
During the 2001 growing season there were a variety of growing conditions. The spring started out dry, but by May the rainfall average was back to normal. The Bedford and West Lafayette locations received below average rainfall throughout the growing season while the Butlerville, Columbia City, and Wanatah locations received average rainfall. The only seeding done this year was a replant of “PLH No-spray” at West Lafayette.
Presentation and Interpretation of Results
Yields are reported as dry matter yield in tons per acre (T/A). Tables (1-9) summarize results of 1998-2001 alfalfa variety yield trials conducted in Indiana.
In each table, varieties are listed in order of total yield to date. Within a column, varieties differing from each other by less than the respective LSD (least significant difference) were not significantly different (probability > 0.05). Yields followed by an asterisk (*) are not significantly different from the highest value in the column.
The CV (coefficient of variability) is the ratio of the standard deviation to the grand mean. It is used as a measure of the precision of the experiment. Lower CV's indicate lower experimental error in the trial.
Number of harvests within a year is listed at the bottom of each yield column.
Yield as percent of check is listed in the rightmost columns of the tables. The check variety used was Vernal. Additionally, tables show percent of check in the first two years and in the cumulated years of production. This can be used as an indirect measure of persistence. Percentages that increase with time or are relatively high in the final years may be an indication of better persistence.
In 1994, the North American Alfalfa Improvement Conference recommended new guidelines to separate entries allocated from commercial and experimental seed sources. Names of entries are preceded by "x" if tested using experimental seed provided by the entrant; remaining entries were obtained from commercial seed lots. Research has shown yield tends to decrease in some breeding lines as seed progresses from a more heterozygous state in experimental generations to the commercially available generation.
Appendix Table 3 contains a listing of commercially available entries, reference number of their marketer(s) (in correspondence with Appendix Table 4), tables where data are found, and characterization information including fall dormancy rating and resistance rating to bacterial wilt, verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, anthracnose, phytophthora root rot, aphanomyces stem nematode, and root-knot nematode.
Appendix Table 4 lists marketer, address, phone number, and contact person as provided by the entrant company and referenced in Appendix Table 3.
How to Use Alfalfa Performance Information
Information presented in the bulletin should be useful in selecting alfalfa seed for forage production in Indiana. Here are some suggestions for using this information.
Select the test location (Figure 1) that best represents your production area.
Within a location, yield tables with the greatest number of years are probably the best predictors of performance.
Utilize the percent of check columns in Tables 1 through 3 to evaluate persistence.
If a particular disease problem is known in your area, check Appendix Table 3 for resistance ratings. Fall dormancy ratings of 2-4 are generally appropriate for northern Indiana and can be as high as 5 in the southern part of the state.
Once your list is narrowed down, contact seed dealers listed in Appendix Table 4 for seed availability and price.
Evaluate each part of your management system to ensure that selected varieties can express their full yield potential. The highest yielding varieties, when mismanaged, may not produce the yield and quality of lower yielding varieties properly managed. Seek to improve your management skills through information from available resources. Helpful publications dealing with forage production can be obtained from your local Purdue Cooperative Extension Service Office or from the Media Distribution Center.
List of Tables
List of Appendix Figures
1998 - 2001 Total Monthly Precipitation
List of Appendix Tables
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