Alfalfa

Species: Alfalfa, lucerne, queen of forages
(Medicago sativa L.)
Cultivars: Numerous; from very winter hardy (fall dormancy or FD‘1’) to less winter hardy but early spring and late fall growth (FD‘11’).
Origin: Asia
Use: Hay, silage, grazing (in mixture with grasses).
Description:
General:

Life Span:

Upright growth 2-3 feet tall, purple flowers; compound leaves (3 leaflets).
3 to 5 years. Plants may persist over a decade.
Adaptation:
pH:
Soil:
Rainfall:

Temperature:

6.0-7.5
Sandy-loam, adapted to sandy soils.
Tolerates drought but not prolonged flooding.
Requires at least 6 inches of water to produce one ton of forage.
Widely adapted.
Management:
Seeding Rate:
Planting Date:
Planting Depth:
Seed Cost:
Season of Use:
Production:
15-20 lb PLS/A
September-October
< 0.25 inch
$60-75/A
April-October
6000-10000 lb/A
Notes:
  • High bloat potential.
  • Inoculate with Rhizobia bacteria specific to alfalfa (Type A).
  • In North – Central Texas cotton root rot (a soil borne pathogen) is a major constraint for production.
  • Hay contaminated with blister beetle may cause blister beetle poisoning.

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