Growers who want to plant particular forage varieties this fall should shop for seed early. Supplies look to be tight at least until seed harvest later this fall, warn seed company representatives.

Winterkill, wet weather and delayed plantings in the Upper Midwest contributed to “outstanding” and “excellent” spring alfalfa seed sales there, say Dave Robison, forage and cover crop manager for Legacy Seeds, and Matt Fanta, Forage Genetics International president.

Potential weed issues and late planting dates may have led more Midwestern growers to use Roundup Ready alfalfa as well, Fanta says. Roundup Ready alfalfa seed has traditionally been planted largely in the West, he adds.

Growers may not see their favorite conventional or transgenic alfalfas well at hand in fall, agrees Robin Newell, DuPont Pioneer senior business manager for forages and National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance chair.

Toward the end of the year, he says, “you always have a variety or two that gets on the short side.”

“We have a fair-to-good supply of all our varieties, especially our hybrid alfalfa,” reports Dairyland Seed’s forage product manager, Tim Clark. He encourages growers to order seed early.

“We’re going into the fall planting period with a much lower-than-average carryover position,” adds Cal West Seeds General Manager Paul Frey. Alfalfa seed inventories are planned a year or more ahead of time, he says. “You try to hit a sweet spot, and then Mother Nature throws you a curveball.”


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Although the cool-season grass seed supply is adequate, Robison says, meadow fescue and meadow bromegrass are in “extremely short supplies” because of seed-crop production failures. Orchardgrass and tall fescue seed supplies will also be “somewhat tight until fall seed harvest,” he says.

Italian ryegrass is in good supply and annual ryegrass looks to be in very good supply as it’s harvested in late August, says Robison.

“Last year some people sold out (of annual ryegrass), so this year people are buying earlier,” says Peter Ballerstedt, forage product manager for Barenbrug USA.

Ballerstedt advises growers to check grass seed availability soon. Do the same when shopping for small grains to be used as forages, suggests Chad Hale, Byron Seeds research and acquisitions manager and president of the American Forage & Grassland Council.

“Small grains, it appears, are going to be shorter than they were last fall, so growers need to order soon if they want to get their favorite varieties,” he advises.

For more on seed supply, see Hay & Forage Grower’s August issue story, “Alfalfa, Grass Seed Supplies Tight.”

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