Successful dairy operations are the result of crucial decisions made on an almost a daily basis. Evaluating and understanding your priorities for your fields is just as important to the long-term success of your alfalfa stand. Keep that in mind when making your seed selection and you will capitalize on a high-producing crop that lasts for years. Few companies offer a broader portfolio of HarvXtra®, Roundup Ready®, and conventional alfalfas than NEXGROW®, and we can help you navigate the many considerations to determine what’s best for your farm.
Start with yield potential.
One of the most important criteria for seed selection is your yield potential. One of the easiest ways to evaluate yield potential is to look at results from variety yield trial results. There is rigorous testing throughout the U.S. to help provide growers with the best information possible. Evaluating trial results, ratings and recommendations are helpful when choosing seed varieties that will work best for you.
Prioritize disease resistance.
Alfalfa varieties are given ratings based on their performance in the presence of costly diseases and pests. If you farm in an area prone to Anthracnose, Aphanomyces, or other yield-limiting diseases or pests, it could be beneficial to select a variety with high resistance to help with control. Planting a resistant variety limits your potential yield loss by utilizing genetics better suited to grow in tougher environments.
Look at your geography.
It’s also important to choose a variety with fall dormancy and winter hardiness best suited to your climate. The fall dormancy rating gives you an estimation of regrowth potential; a higher numerical rating means larger potential for fall growth. Winter hardiness ratings are indicators of a variety’s ability to survive winter conditions, so a lower numerical rating indicates better winter survivability.
Consider seed treatments and coatings.
Seed treatments such as fungicides, insecticides, and inoculants can help improve seedling vigor and stand establishment. Seed coatings are the materials designed to retain the treatments placed on seed and to improve plantability. The desired goal of any treatment or coating is improved stand establishment and yield.
Adopt new technologies.
There are many new and exciting developments in alfalfa production, including Roundup Ready alfalfa, HarvXtra alfalfa, and improved disease packages. Utilizing these new alfalfa technologies can set you up for success from the start. Roundup Ready alfalfa can eliminate weeds in your fields, giving your alfalfa the best opportunity for success and quality potential. HarvXtra alfalfa varieties can be managed for higher yield, higher quality forage, or the flexibility to manage around weather and other priorities.
Do the math.
Alfalfa seed costs can vary greatly based on quality of seed, disease resistance, purity, and technology. University researchers have found that only minimal increases in yield were needed to justify these differences in seed cost. Higher priced seeds will often result in higher performance you’ll appreciate at harvest. While certainly important, seed costs shouldn’t be your sole criteria for the seed you choose for your fields.
Selecting an alfalfa variety is one of the most important management decisions you make. NEXGROW brand alfalfas can deliver performance with the latest genetics for your needs and your environment. Consult with your NEXGROW alfalfa seed dealer if you have questions about what best for your farm.