Sunday, January 27, 2013
Alfalfa Part II
In western US the Chilean types were predominant, often called California or Arizona Common varieties. The types spread eastwards. In the mid 1800's, the typical German immigrant introduced a type that later to be named Grimm after him. This type was an Medicago media, so naturally winter hardy after years of selection in the very cold climate of Minnesota. It allowed alfalfa to be used in the cattle ranches of the norther plains. This and later selections finally enabled the crop to establish itself throughout North America, from the East Coast to upper Canada in the late 1800's.
Until the the 1950's, most varieties were either variants of the Chilean common types or Grimm variegated, M. media. use of such public or improved varieties has since decreased dramatically. In the US, one can generalize by stating that by the 1950's, 80% of the varieties were unimproved and only 20% public now remains. The Waterman-Loomis Company played a major role in the development of proprietary varieties. In many countries around the world, a similar shift from publics can be seen, proving the value of improved quality forage products.
This ends one lecture by Dr. Paul Henderlong, my Ohio State University Forages 412 class I took back in 1969. I hope you have enjoyed it. We never produced much alfalfa on our farm because Timothy and clovers were so much better adapted and required less management. Good alfalfa is difficult to grow in humid and normally wet Ohio. I admire the farmers who grow good alfalfa here because it is no easy task.
We studied everything compared to Vernal variety which was the comparison standard in those days. I think dad had a stand that lasted 17 years but we can raise 200 bushel corn on that field very easily today. I remember Cimarron coming and going and many Pioneer and other varieties.
When I was the county agent guy, I read the Haymaker quarterly public publication out of Fresno, California. Dr. Gary Lacefield was the expert to go to from the University of Kentucky in those days
LuAnn and I still love the color, smell and texture of fresh cut alfalfa. No wonder livestock like it so well.