Alfalfa mixed with tall fescue or orchardgrass produced significantly higher dry-matter yields than alfalfa alone at two Minnesota locations in a 2011 study.

University of Minnesota researchers tested three alfalfa varieties alone and mixed with two varieties of each grass. Plots, all in their third production year, were cut four times to a 4” stubble height. Chopped forage subsamples were oven-dried and quality was measured using NIRS analysis.

At one location, alfalfa-tall fescue yielded 5.87 tons of dry matter per acre vs. 5.41 tons for alfalfa-orchardgrass and 4.89 tons for alfalfa alone. At the other site, tons-per-acre yields were 4.03, 4.01 and 3.6, respectively, for alfalfa-orchardgrass, alfalfa-tall fescue and pure alfalfa.

Per-acre yields of crude protein, NDF and digestible NDF also were higher for the mixtures, the researchers report.