An estimated 20% of California's 1.1 million acres of alfalfa is Roundup Ready varieties just 18 months after the first herbicide-resistant alfalfas were introduced, claims Monsanto's Bill Cox. He expects the adoption level to hit 90% within four years.

"Growers are telling me they are saving $40-50 per acre in herbicide costs over conventional varieties," says Cox, of Visalia, CA. "The quality is better because it is weed-free."

It's also producing more because growers are not using harsh herbicides to control weeds. In a side-by-side comparison, Cox says a local grower produced a half-ton more baled hay per acre off Roundup Ready alfalfa in his first four dairy-quality hay cuttings and received $10 more per ton for high TDN and protein.

Tom Barcellos of Tipton, CA, has seen similar results. "Six years of growing Roundup Ready corn and three years of Roundup Ready cotton convinced me the technology works," said Barcellos, who, in addition to raising crops, also operates an 800-cow dairy and a custom harvesting and hauling business.

"Roundup Ready alfalfa yields more consistently and is a better crop than conventional alfalfa for basically one reason; we don't have to knock the pants off of it with herbicides," says Barcellos.

Source: Western Farm Press.