2007 Ohio Forage Performance Trials
Extension Forage Agronomist, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science
Research Associate, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science
D. J. Barker
Assistant Professor, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science
K. A. Diedrick
Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources
Manager, Western Branch, OARDC
Assistant Manager, Western Branch, OARDC
Manager, Jackson Branch, OARDC
Manager, Schaffter Farm, Wooster, OARDC
Manager, Northwestern Branch, OARDC
This report is a summary of
performance data collected from forage variety trials in
2007 report includes performance data of commercial alfalfa varieties in tests
planted in 2005, 2006 and 2007 at four sites (Tables 2 to 7); evaluation of
potato leafhopper resistance in alfalfa at South Charleston (Tables 8); red
clover variety trial at South Charleston (Table 9); and grass variety trials at
South Charleston (Tables 10 to 14).
For more details
on forage species and management, see the Ohio Agronomy Guide,
Ohio State University Extension
Bulletin 472, (available online at
Interpreting Yield Data in this Report
Yield data are reported in
Tables 2 through 14. Details of
establishment and management of each test are listed in footnotes below the
tables. Least significant differences (LSD) are listed at the bottom of Tables
3 through 14. Differences between
varieties are significant only if they are equal to or greater than the LSD
value. If a given variety out yields
another variety by as much or more than the LSD value, then we are 95% sure that
the yield difference is real, with only a 5% probability that the difference is
due to chance alone. For example, if
variety X is 0.50 ton/acre higher in yield than variety Y, then this difference
is statistically significant if the LSD is 0.50 or less.
If the LSD is 0.51 or greater, then we are less confident that variety X
really is higher yielding than variety Y under the conditions of the test.
The CV value or coefficient
of variation, listed at the bottom of each table is used as a measure of the
precision of the experiment. Lower CV values will generally relate to lower
experimental error in the trial.
Uncontrollable or unmeasurable variations in soil fertility, soil drainage, and
other environmental factors contribute to greater experimental error and higher
Results reported here should
be representative of what might occur throughout the state but would be most
applicable under environmental and management conditions similar to those of the
tests. The relative yields of all
forage legume varieties are affected by crop management and by environmental
factors including soil type, winter conditions, soil moisture conditions,
diseases, and insects.
Alfalfa has the highest
combined yield and quality potential of any adapted perennial forage grown in Ohio.
It is the state's largest single hay crop, being grown on about one-half
of the total hay acres. Alfalfa
requires well-drained soils with near-neutral pH (6.5-7.0) for greatest
production and persistence. Alfalfa
trials are initiated each year and data is collected for at least four years
unless the stand becomes so depleted that further testing is no longer
worthwhile; variety performance should be evaluated over several sites and
Guidelines for Selecting Alfalfa Varieties
To capitalize on alfalfa's
potential, select high-yielding varieties with resistance to problem diseases.
Consider these factors when selecting alfalfa varieties for
Yield. Yield is the major factor
in determining profitability of an alfalfa stand. Select varieties with high
yields over several locations and years.
Table 3 shows this comparison in percent of the average yield.
Varieties that perform equally well across several locations and years
are probably adapted to a wider range of environmental conditions. Stable yield
performance across several environments is important because soils may vary on
your farm and weather conditions vary from year to year.
Conditions on most farms are such that several varieties may perform
Another important consideration beyond yield is
how long the stand will last. Study variety performance by age of stand to get
an estimate of longevity of stand productivity.
Some varieties may decline with age more rapidly than others. This may
influence your choice of variety depending on how long you intend to keep the
stand in production. For
long-term rotations, choose varieties with good disease resistance and good
performance in the fourth year of production. If you plan to harvest alfalfa for
three years or less, then high performance during early years of the stand
should be given major consideration.
Fall dormancy (FD).
Alfalfa varieties with fall dormancy ratings
of 1 through 5 are considered adequately winter hardy for
conditions while those of 6 or higher are not considered adapted.
Varieties with higher fall dormancy ratings tend to grow at a lower
temperature. Thus they begin to grow
earlier in the spring and later into the fall, extending the growing season.
The fall dormancy rating does not correlate well with winter hardiness
within the range of varieties adapted to the Midwestern USA.
Variety selection based on yield performance alone is less satisfactory
than selections that also consider disease resistance characteristics.
Resistance to specific disease-causing pathogens may be the most
important attribute in an alfalfa variety.
Pathogens can dramatically reduce yield and persistence of susceptible
varieties. In a recent evaluation of older versus newer alfalfa varieties we
found that varieties released in the mid-1990’s yielded more (0.25 ton per acre
more each year) and persisted longer than older varieties, primarily because of
improved resistance to diseases that affected the trial. For more information on
alfalfa diseases and varietal resistance to specific diseases, go to the
Alfalfa varieties have been developed for resistance
to potato leafhopper (PLH), which is the most consistently damaging insect pest
of alfalfa in Ohio.
This report includes several trials where yield tolerance to PLH damage is being
evaluated. Please note that the PLH resistant varieties are not resistant to the
alfalfa weevil, and they will need to be protected from that pest like all
standard alfalfa varieties when weevil populations exceed the economic action
threshold. For more information on insect management in alfalfa, see the
Compare to check variety.
For comparisons of varieties across several trials, always compare
varieties to the same check planted within the trial. The variety Vernal is used
as a check in all Ohio trials.
Use good management.
No variety can produce well under poor management. Good management
considers all aspects of alfalfa production: seed bed preparation, liming and
fertilization, seeding, pest control, harvest, storage, and post harvest
treatment. Many newer varieties are better adapted to intensive management.
The growing season began with above normal temperatures in March followed by
below normal temperatures in April, including several days when temperatures
fell below 20 F, killing back early spring growth. Forages in the southern
two-thirds of the state were most severely affected by the late spring freeze.
Temperatures were above normal all months except April and July. Several months
had below normal rainfall at all locations. Total rainfall for the season was
above normal at N. Baltimore (+2.4 inches) and Wooster
(+1.6 inches), but below normal for South Charleston
(-2.0 inches) and Jackson
(-9.0 inches). Yields were below the record highs of 2006.
The trial established in 2006 at
had the highest yields, averaging 7.4 tons/acre. Alfalfa weevil populations were
low at all sites and no insecticide was required for their control.
Insecticide applications were used at all locations for control of potato
leafhopper (PLH) in the standard yield trials.
No insecticide was applied to control potato leafhopper in the Regional
Alfalfa Yield Trial for Potato Leafhopper Resistance conducted at South Charleston, OH and Ames, IA.
Leafhopper populations were above economic thresholds at both locations,
resulting in significant yield differences among varieties in response to PLH
injury. Leafhopper resistant varieties are not resistant to alfalfa weevil, and
will need to be treated with insecticides if weevil populations exceed action
Forage yields of red clover varieties were 5
tons/acre or higher in 2007, except for Red Gold (due to poor establishment) and
common seed (due to stand loss from diseases). Newer varieties of red clover
yield more and persist longer than common red clover.
Yield in 2007 was
lower due to the reduced rainfall. Orchardgrass varieties differed greatly in
yield over the season, and all varieties went dormant for part of the summer due
The tall fescue
trial of endophyte-free varieties established at
in 2004 had lower yields in 2007 than in 2006. New varieties that are endophyte
free or that contain a non-toxic endophyte (eg., Jessup Max Q) have potential to
increase animal performance during the summer grazing season and to provide
forage for beef cattle and sheep during autumn and early winter.
ryegrass trial at South Charleston
also had lower yields in 2007. Only
two harvests were made due to the reduced growth from below normal rainfall.
Perennial ryegrass (diploid and tetraploid) is the most winter hardy of the
ryegrass types. A couple of
varieties in the ryegrass trial were festuloliums, which are crosses
between annual ryegrass and fescue. They generally are more winter-hardy and
slightly more drought tolerant than perennial ryegrass.
Total forage yields in the annual ryegrass trial
seeded September 2006 ranged from 0.33 to 3.6 tons/acre among varieties,
partially due to large differences in winter injury (note % stand density in
April). A new trial was seeded September 2007, and one harvest was taken in
early November. Winter survival and yield will be evaluated in that trial in
2008. Annual ryegrass is a cool-season annual bunch grass that is highly
palatable and digestible. It has high seedling vigor and is well adapted to
either conventional or no-till establishment methods.
Inclusion of entries in Ohio Alfalfa
Performance Trials does not constitute an endorsement of a particular entry by
The Ohio State University, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, or
Ohio State University Extension. Where trade names appear, no discrimination is
intended, and no endorsement is implied by The Ohio State University, Ohio
Agricultural Research and Development Center, or Ohio State University
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Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30,
1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Keith L. Smith,
Director, Ohio State University Extension.
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