Hybrid alfalfa seed remains so tight that some growers probably won't be able to find it. That's despite the fact that seed of the first hybrid — HybriForce-400 — is much more plentiful this year than last. And two new hybrids are being introduced.

Strong sales are the main reason for the expected shortfall.

“We met our seed supply target for 2002,” reports Tom Strachota, CEO of Dairyland Seed, West Bend, WI. “However, the demand has been much larger than we expected.”

Dairyland introduced HybriForce-400 last March. Seed was so scarce that only a few growers were able to buy the variety, which promises to deliver significant yield gains over conventional varieties.

The hybrid will account for 10-15% of Dairyland's total alfalfa seed sales for 2002 plantings, says Strachota. But that likely won't be enough to meet demand.

“There's limited availability in some areas,” he says. “We're trying to allow most people who have interest in the product to obtain some.”

The company also has licensed two hybrids to other companies. They've been named Journey 204 and Phirst.

Journey 204 is co-marketed by Arrow Seed Co., Broken Bow, NE; Sharp Bros. Seed, Healy, KS; and Fontanelle Hybrids, Nickerson, NE. The seed supply is “very limited,” but some still may be available in certain areas, says Fontanelle's Steve Pike.

“We're pretty selective about where it's going,” says Pike. “We're trying to scatter it out to as many locations as we can.”

Phirst, from Doebler's, Inc., Jersey Shore, PA, is no longer available.

“By all industry standards, we had a great deal of seed,” says Willard Jones, president. “But it's all been sold.”

The three hybrids are rated 4 for fall dormancy and score 28 out of 30 in the Wisconsin Disease Rating Index. The winter survival scores are 1.6 for HybriForce-400, 2.4 for Journey 204 and 2.2 for Phirst.