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Performance of Alfalfa in Indiana, 1994-1997

Ben Carter, Jerry Schmierer, Keith D. Johnson,and Miles Kuhn*
Department of Agronomy

*Research agronomist, visiting scientist, professor of agronomy and former research agronomist, respectively, Dept. of Agronomy, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1150.

Return to 1997 Alfalfa Varity Table of Contents


This bulletin summar-izes the results of 1994-1997 yield performance tests of alfalfa variety entries in Indiana. This information, protected by copyright by the Purdue Research Foundation, is presented under authority granted the Indiana Agricultural Research Programs to conduct performance trials, including interpretation of the data to the public, and does not imply endorsement or recommendation by Purdue University. Permission is granted to reproduce the tables only in their entirety provided the source is referenced and the data are not rearranged, manipulated, or reinterpreted. A conspicuous disclaimer which states "endorsement or recommendation by Purdue University is not implied" must accompany any information reproduced. 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 be accessed electronically by the following two methods.

1. email - almanac (by the following): send mail to almanac@ecn.purdue.edu, and in the body of the message type: send acsonline B-767
2. World Wide Web (Mosaic, Netscape, etc.): by pointing to the URL address:

Related Extension Publications:

AY-251 Improving Pastures by Renovation
AY-253 Forage Selection and Seeding Guide for IN

AY-260 Forage Testing-- Why, How, and Where
E-28 Meadow Spittlebug
E-36 Potato Leafhopper on Alfalfa
E-38 Alfalfa Weevil
ID-167 Maximizing the Value of Pasture for Horses
ID-172 Use of Microwave Drying to Determine Moisture Content in Forage
WS-11 Weed Control in Alfalfa
WS-18 Common Chickweed Control in Alfalfa


We appreciate the help of the personnel of the regional Purdue Agricultural Centers, the Agronomy Research Center, and the many student and temporary workers that have assisted in these studies. We would like to thank the National Weather Service for the data used in Appendix Figure 1 and Appendix Table 2 and the Indiana Agricultural Statistics Service for the information included in Appendix Table 1 of this bulletin. A special thanks goes to Lou Jones, our departmental artist. Much of the artwork that brightens our bulletin is from her pen.

Questions can be directed to:

Ben Carter
Dept. of Agronomy
Purdue University
1150 Lilly Hall of Life Sciences
West Lafayette, IN 47907-1150
Phone (765) 494-5825
FAX (765) 496-2926

E-Mail address bcart@purdue.edu

Experimental Methods

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 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 1994 and 1997, Purdue University successfully established twelve 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 spacings.

Best management practices were administered to all studies. Optimum pH and fertility were provided and maintained. Alfalfa weevil and potato leafhopper were controlled with the systemic insecticides carbofuran (Furadan), Bathyorid, and dimethoate (Cygon), respectively. When necessary, control of broadleaf or grass weeds was accomplished with application of 2,4D-B (Butyrac), sethoxydim (Poast) and/or imazethapyr (Pursuit) herbicides, respectively. Winter-annual weeds were controlled on new and established stands with an application of pronamide (Kerb) and 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

Indiana_map.GIF (14955 bytes)
Figure 1.

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). Studies seeded in 1994 and 1995 (Tables 2 and 5 ) are on a Sebawa loam soil on a 0-2% slope, formed in loamy glacial outwash. The 1997 seeded study (Table 11 ) is on a Tracy sandy loam on a 0-2% slope and was irrigated when needed.

The Northeast Purdue Agricultural Center is located near Columbia City in Whitley County (Philip C. Walker, superintendent). The 1994 seeded trial (Table 3) was conducted on a Rawson sandy loam on a 2-6% slope. A Boyer Sandy Loam on a 2-6% slope is the site of the 1996 seeded trial (Table 9).

The Purdue Agronomy Research Center is located near West Lafayette in Tippecanoe County (James J. Beaty III, superintendent). A Drummer silt loam with a 0-2% slope and a 4-5% organic matter content is the site of the 1994 and 1995 seeded trials (Tables 1 and 4). The 1996 and 1997 seeded study (Tables 7 and 10) was conducted on a Xenia silt loam soil with a 0-2% slope.

The Southeast Purdue Agricultural Center is located near Butlerville in Jennings County (Donald J. Biehle, superintendent). The 1995 and 1997 seeded studies (Tables 6 and 12) is on an Avonburg silt loam soil with a 0-2% slope.

The Feldun-Purdue Agriculture Center is located near Bedford in Lawrence County ( Richard Huntrods, superintendant). The 1997 reseeded study (Table 8) is on a Muren silt loam (1-3% slope) soil, formed from loess.

1994-1997 Growing Seasons

(Refer to precipitation charts and average daily temperature deviation table for more information.)
West Lafayette
Columbia City

The winter of 1993-1994 was especially hard on alfalfa stands in the southern part of the state. Stands were reduced by half due to heaving and winter injury. Drought stress worsened yields throughout the summer at Butlerville. Pockets of drought plagued much of the state throughout the season, and lowered Indiana hay supplies. First harvest was taken at a mid-bud stage during a week of exceptionally good harvest weather.

Early season rain in 1995 resulted in higher yields for the first harvest across the state. Butlerville maintained an adequate amount of soil moisture for the entire growing season. Lack of mid-summer moisture and excessive heat limited growth at West Lafayette, while Wanatah and Columbia City were less affected. Late-summer moisture fell statewide, permitting alfalfa to enter the winter in good shape.

Early season rain in 1996 made it difficult to establish alfalfa stands as well as delaying most of the first cutting across the state. Due to this delay, the two northern sites only reported three harvests for the year. Lack of moisture at West Lafayette caused a decrease in yield toward the end of the season.

The 1997 growing season started out positive with the plots timely planted, giving the seedlings a good start. This year progressed with the central and southern sites going from very wet to dry; and the southern sites becoming very dry. Along with the variation in moisture in the state, the temperatures remained unusually cool causing the growing degree day totals to be two weeks behind normal. This reduced the growth and lengthened the time between harvests. Due to these factors, the reseeded plots at Bedford and the new seeding at Wanatah could only be harvested one time. With timely rains this fall the studies entered the winter in good condition.

Presentation and Interpretation of Results

Yields are reported as dry matter yield in tons per acre (T/A). Tables (1-12) summarize results of 1994-1997 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 (probability > 0.05) different. 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 Tables (1-12). The check variety used was Vernal. Additionally, Tables (1-6) show percent of check in the first two years and in the final two years of production. This can be used as a 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. In the presentation of the 1994-1997 seeded studies, 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.

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.

  1. Select the test location (Figure 1) that best represents your production area.

  2. Within a location, yield tables with the greatest number of years are probably the best predictors of performance.

  3. Utilize the percent of check columns in Tables 1 thru 6 to evaluate persistence.

  4. 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.

  5. Once your list is narrowed down, call or write 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 listed inside the front cover can be obtained from your local Purdue Cooperative Extension Service Office or from the Media Distribution Center.

Appendix Table 1. Hay Statistics for Indiana and the United States, 1994 to 19971.

Acres for harvest,



Yield, tons/acre2










All Hay









Alfalfa Hay









Other Hay









United States

All Hay









Alfalfa Hay









Other Hay









1 December 1996 estimates

2 Does not include yield harvested by grazing or removed as silage.

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 is found, and characterization information including fall dormancy rating and resistance rating to bacterial wilt, verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, anthracnose, phytophthora root rot, 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.

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Copyright 1998 Purdue University Agronomy Extension
Last modified: February 17, 2002