Before buying your alfalfa seed for next season, check out the National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance’s (NAFA) 2010 Edition of Winter Survival, Fall Dormancy & Pest Resistance Ratings for Alfalfa Varieties. It is now in the November issue of Hay & Forage Grower and can be downloaded in a printable form (Click on leaflet title).

NAFA teamed up with the magazine to provide a current and comprehensive listing of winter survival, fall dormancy and pest resistance ratings of 200-plus alfalfa varieties deemed eligible for certification by the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies and the National Alfalfa And Miscellaneous Legumes Variety Review Board.

Hay & Forage Grower, in that same issue, provides a listing of the industry’s newest board-approved alfalfas as well as fall dormancy and pest information on 18 others. Those varieties are currently being marketed and will go through board review this coming January.

One of the most critical components of raising a productive alfalfa crop is variety selection, says Dan Putnam, University of California-Davis forage extension agronomist.

“Don’t look at the price of the seed, look at performance,” he adds. “We have seen hundreds of dollars per acre benefit from improved varieties with increased yields in our trials, while the added cost of improved seed is minimal. The ratings data published by NAFA are critical in predicting performance.”

Putnam advises producers to select a group of varieties from among the top performers and then consider price and service. “University trials provide an unbiased first look at the yield performance of these lines, and the NAFA variety list provides you with their characteristics. Together, this results in good decisions and a good return on investment later.”

Print copies of the NAFA leaflet can be ordered at alfalfa.org for a nominal fee of 50¢. In addition to the variety guide, growers can utilize state-by-state yield trial information provided by the North American Alfalfa Improvement Conference.