Alfalfas with salt tolerance, lodging resistance or second-generation Roundup Ready technology are or will soon be available to growers, according to breeding company spokespersons.
“Anywhere there’s irrigation, there’s a chance of salt buildup over time,” says Don Miller, Producer’s Choice forage breeder. North and South Dakota, as well as Southwestern states, have the most problems with saline soils. Growers are just starting to realize that salt-tolerant alfalfas are available, he adds.
Dairyland Seed’s Magnum Salt alfalfa is awaiting approval from the National Alfalfa And Miscellaneous Legumes Variety Review Board to be eligible for certification. It’s a branch-rooted fall-dormancy 4 variety.
“We have invested nearly a decade of research in North and South Dakota confirming Magnum Salt’s genetic gain and tolerance in salty soil,” says Mike Velde, Dairyland Seed alfalfa breeder. “We also have research backing this new line of alfalfa’s ability to thrive when irrigated with water containing higher salt levels.” More on both varieties can be found on pages 25 and 35.
Pioneer Hi-Bred International has been working in another direction.
“We’ve got these lodging-resistant types that we’ve been working on for a long time, and we’ll see more of those in the future,” says Robin Newell, Pioneer forage business manager. They can prevent yield loss and keep early cuttings’ lodged stems from reducing quality in later cuttings, he says. The company’s first lodging-resistant variety, 55V12, was put on the market in 2009.
Cal/West also continues to annually release new and improved StandFast varieties with lodging resistance and/or faster regrowth.
“We’ll be releasing second-generation Roundup Ready alfalfas, building on the first generation,” adds Mark McCaslin, president of Forage Genetics International. They will include a wider variety of dormancies and new characteristics; the first ones will be available in 2012.
Reduced-lignin alfalfa is on schedule for 2015 or 2016 U.S. deregulation, he says.