The University of Arizona

Survival of 16 alfalfa populations space planted into a grassland.

J.R. Hendrickson, J.D. Berdahl

Abstract


Many alfalfa (Medicago spp.) cultivars have limited ability to persist under grazing and therefore, a key step in incorporating alfalfa into pastures and rangelands is choosing a grazing tolerant cultivar. In this study, we evaluated the grazing tolerance of 16 alfalfa populations representing a range of potential grazing tolerance. Entries were transplanted on a rangeland site in July 1996 at the Northern Great Plains Research Lab in Mandan, N.D., USA and mob-grazed by cattle from 1997 to 2000. Plant survival, basal area, and stem numbers were recorded in the spring and fall of each year. At the final survival evaluation in May 2001, SCMF 3713 had the highest survival (90%), 'Vernal' had the lowest (23%) and 10 of the 16 entries had greater than 50% survival. A large decline in survival between September 2000 and May 2001 may be attributed to low temperatures in November and December of 2000. Entries such as 'Alfagraze', B-36 and Agripro ZG9415, which were developed in warmer climates, had the largest percentage drop in survival (43.0, 48.6, and 48.6 percentage points respectively) while SCMF 3713, 'Anik' and Alaska Syn A, developed in colder climates, had the least percentage point drops (2.8, 4.1, and 4.1 respectively). The ability to survive over winter contributed more to the different survival rates of these alfalfa populations than did any of the measured plant variables. Producers should know the origins of grazing tolerant alfalfa cultivars and consider selecting cultivars that have been tested in their area.

DOI:10.2458/azu_jrm_v56i3_hendrickson


Keywords


grazing tolerance;range improvement;Medicago sativa subsp. falcata;Medicago sativa nothosubsp. varia;biological resistance;strain differences;cold tolerance;basal area;hybrids;selection criteria;mortality;cultivars;environmental factors;grazing;North Dakota

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