Are you looking for alfalfa varieties with potato leafhopper resistance or the multileaflet trait for enhanced forage quality?

Either way, you'll find a good selection, plus a number of more conventional options, in the 1998 new-variety lineup.

But don't make any special trait your top variety-selection criterion, warn forage agronomists. Yield potential remains most important by far. Pick varieties that have yielded well in university trials under conditions similar to yours. And look at performance over the life of the stand, not just the first year or two.

Most agronomists discourage growers from planting significant acreages to new varieties. Try a few in test strips, but plant most of your acreage to proven performers, they say.

Here are 1998's new varieties and some of their traits, as provided by seed marketers.

Mycogen Seeds' new TMF 421 is a Totally Managed Feedstuffs variety for Northern growers. A dark green, fine-stemmed variety, it offers a very high leaf-to-stem ratio and a high relative feed value (RFV) score. It's highly resistant to five of the six major alfalfa diseases, including bacterial and verticillium wilts, anthracnose, phytophthora root rot (PRR) and aphanomyces.

It's resistant to the sixth major disease, fusarium wilt, and to spotted alfalfa aphid. It's also highly resistant to pea aphid and stem nematode.

America's Alfalfa, Shawnee Mission, KS, introduces Arriba, a fall dormancy 7 alfalfa for Western producers. Highly resistant to fusarium wilt, it's also resistant to PRR and verticillium wilt.

Salada, also from America's Alfalfa, is noted for its persistent yield performance and impressive salt tolerance. Highly resistant to blue alfalfa aphid and southern root knot nematode, it has a fall dormancy rating of 9.

Breakout, a new variety from Brown Seed Farms, Inc., Prescott, WI, is a multileaflet alfalfa with a 3.5 fall dormancy rating. It offers fast recovery after cutting, excellent fall growth, top quality and across-the-board disease resistance. Its winterhardiness rating: 1.9.

WinterKing, new from Wensman Seed Co., Wadena, MN, is highly resistant to five of the major alfalfa diseases. WinterKing has a fall dormancy rating of 3 and was designed for fast recovery after three or four cuttings. It has high yields, good multileaflet expression, excellent forage quality and very good winterhardiness.

Champion LH, one of the first true leafhopper-resistant varieties, is available from Kaltenberg Seeds, Waunakee, WI. Under leafhopper pressure, the new alfalfa's forage yield and quality are significantly better than those of non-resistant varieties.

Pioneer Hi-Bred International announces five new varieties.

Recommended for use east of the Missouri River, 53Q60 will be the premium non-leafhopper-resistant alfalfa for the area. A medium fall dormant variety, it is to replace 5262, 5312 and 5454. It's highly resistant to PRR, anthracnose and bacterial wilt.

The variety 53V08 is a medium fall dormancy for the northwestern U.S. and Canada, where multiple pest resistance and quality forage production are required. It's suited to areas known to have stem and northern root knot nematode problems.

Targeted to replace 5396, the alfalfa shows high resistance to PRR, anthracnose, bacterial and fusarium wilts, pea aphid and stem nematode.

Pioneer's 54Q53, a late fall dormant variety, is adapted to the Northwest, Intermountain and Plains areas where nematodes are a problem. It also shows high resistance to PRR and bacterial and verticillium wilts.

The late fall dormant 54H55 is adapted to the Southern Plains states where blue aphid is a problem. It's highly resistant to PRR, spotted aphid, pea aphid, and blue aphid.

A non-dormant variety, 58N57 is adapted to the San Joaquin and Imperial Valleys of California and low desert areas of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico. Replacing 5715 and 5888, it shows excellent forage yield and high resistance to PRR, anthracnose, fusarium wilt, pea aphid, blue aphid and southern root knot nematode.

A new experimental alfalfa from Dairyland Seed, West Bend, WI, has the glandular-hair trait for potato leafhopper resistance. With moderate infestations, DS-9710 provides control without a need for insecticides.

Another leafhopper-resistant variety, LG 9337, is from LG Seeds, Peoria, IL. It offers high yields and excellent disease resistance to promote stand health and longevity.

A new alfalfa from Cargill, FQ302HR, features high resistance to potato leafhopper. It's also resistant to major alfalfa diseases and has a fall dormancy rating of 3. With excellent forage yield potential, the variety's winterhardiness is similar to Vernal.

Millennia, from Union Seed Co., Nampa, ID, combines late fall dormancy (4.4), very fast recovery after cutting and exceptional forage yield potential with very good winterhardiness (3.3).

It's highly resistant to bacterial and fusarium wilts, anthracnose, PRR and stem nematode; resistant to verticillium wilt, aphanomyces, spotted alfalfa aphid and pea aphid. It has a dark green color and high multifoliate leaf expression.

Dekalb Genetics, Dekalb, IL, has four new varieties, all with a fall dormancy rating of 4. DK140 has excellent winterhardiness and persistence, very fast recovery after cutting and high resistance to anthracnose, aphanomyces race 1, bacterial and fusarium wilts, PRR and spotted alfalfa aphid.

DK 141 offers high resistance to all six of the major alfalfa diseases and very fast recovery. Its excellent feed value makes it a choice for producers wanting to maximize profits.

The high-yielding DK 142 has very good winterhardiness and high resistance to aphanomyces race 1, bacterial and fusarium wilts, PRR, pea aphid and spotted alfalfa aphid.

DK 143 has fast cutting recovery and high resistance to anthracnose, bacterial wilt, PRR and pea aphid. It's well-suited for the Western Plains and the Intermountain/Pacific Northwest regions.

Novartis Seeds, Golden Valley, MN, has two new varieties that still go by experimental names.

4G75 is a high-yielding, late fall dormant variety with very good winterhardiness, excellent multiple pest resistance and high multileaflet expression.

3L 104, also high-yielding, is more winterhardy than other varieties with a 4 fall dormancy rating. It performs well over a wide range of environments in the West.

Geertson Seed Farms, Adrian, OR, introduces Monument, an extremely persistent variety resistant to lesion nematode and root-crown rots.

Rhino, also from Geertson, combines high yield performance with resistance to the six major diseases. It's also resistant to pea aphid, stem nematode and leafhopper yellowing.

GCS 2000 GH, from Gold Country Seed, Hutchinson, MN, holds the glandular-hair trait for leafhopper resistance. It resists disease and has strong winterhardiness, fast recovery, high relative feed value and high yield.

AgriBioTech, Inc., Las Vegas, NV, offers five new varieties.

ABT 227 LH provides excellent leafhopper resistance, high resistance to PRR, anthracnose and bacterial wilt, and excellent persistence and winterhardiness. It has a fall dormancy rating of 2.2 and is adapted for use in the North Central, Midwestern and Northeastern U.S.

ABT 205 shows high resistance to five of the six major alfalfa diseases and is resistant to aphanomyces. With a fall dormancy of 2, the variety is adaptable to the Midwestern, North Central and Northeastern U.S.

AgriBioTech's ABT 405, with a fall dormancy rating of 4, will yield and persist in production areas where four cuttings are common and severe winters likely. Highly resistant to four of the major diseases, it also resists verticillium wilt and aphanomyces.

Max 329 highly resists five of the major alfalfa diseases and is resistant to aphanomyces. With a fall dormancy rating of 3, the variety has high RFVs with high yields. It also has a high level of multifoliate expression, totaling 77%.

Also highly resistant to five of the main diseases - and resistant, too, to aphanomyces, is SuperCuts. The alfalfa has a fall dormancy rating of 3.8 and high yields year after year.