Along with many other universities, Ohio State University has released results of its latest forage trials. The 2012 Ohio Forage Performance Trials, available online, includes yield trials of commercial varieties of alfalfa, red and white clover, tall fescue and annual ryegrass. The forages were planted in 2008 to 2012 across three sites in Ohio: South Charleston, Wooster and North Baltimore.

“Forage yields were very respectable despite the dry summer, although our testing sites received more rainfall than many areas of Ohio in 2012,” says Mark Sulc, forage specialist with Ohio State University Extension. Yields averaged from 5.8 to 6.5 tons/acre for alfalfa, 5.6 tons/acre for red clover, 2.4 tons/acre for white clover, 5.7 tons/acre for tall fescue, and 6.3 tons/acre for annual ryegrass that was planted in September 2011.

The results demonstrate the importance of selecting adapted varieties with proven yield records across locations, says Sulc. “In our trials in 2012, individual alfalfa varieties varied in yield from 14% to 20% depending on location. Improved red clover varieties yielded up to 53% more than common (VNS) medium red clover. White clover varieties differed in yield by as much as 12.6%, tall fescue varieties differed by up to 7% yield, and annual ryegrass varieties differed by up to 42% yield.”

Links to forage performance trials in other states are included in the Ohio report. “It is important to consider yield, not only close to home, but across several environments, because every year presents different weather conditions,” says Sulc. “Varieties with good yield performance across multiple environments are likely to produce more stable yields across soil types and years on your farm.”