Alfalfa growers can begin contacting seed dealers about ordering Roundup Ready varieties, says Mark McCaslin, president of Forage Genetics International.

Selling the biotech seed became legal again when USDA’s decision to deregulate the crop was published in today’s Federal Register. About 40 Roundup Ready varieties are available from most major seed companies. The varieties were developed by Forage Genetics and licensed to other companies, with a few exceptions.

“We did some of what we call co-breeding, where we worked with a couple of other breeding companies to develop varieties,” McCaslin reports.

All the varieties are high performers with fall dormancy ratings ranging from 3 to 9.

“I would say, with very few gaps, there are varieties that are adapted to every major production area in the U.S. in terms of the right level of fall dormancy, winterhardiness, insect and disease resistance, etc.,” he says.

Seed supplies should be sufficient for spring and fall 2011 seedings. When the seed was pulled off the market in 2007, Forage Genetics, which contracted most Roundup Ready alfalfa seed production, continued to honor contracts with seed growers. So seed has been harvested the past three years.

The seed has been in controlled bulk storage and will be moved back into distribution channels. Seed lots probably will be blended to ensure uniformly high germination, says McCaslin.

“We’re very pleased with where we are in terms of seed quality,” he says.

Roundup Ready seed is priced similarly to other premium varieties plus Monsanto’s technology fee (royalty). The royalty is $150 per 50-lb bag west of the Rocky Mountains; $125 east of the Rockies.