2011 Ohio Forage Performance Trials
J.S. McCormick, Research Associate, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science
R.M. Sulc, Extension Forage Agronomist, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science
D. J. Barker,
Associate Professor, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science
Clarence Renk, Manager, Western
Agricultural Research Station, OARDC
Joe Davlin, Assistant Manager, Western Agricultural Research Station, OARDC
Matt Davis, Manager, Northwest Agricultural Research Station, OARDC
Lynn Ault, Manager, Schaffter Farm, Wooster, OARDC
This report is a summary
of performance data collected from forage variety trials in Ohio during
2011, including commercial varieties of alfalfa, red clover, white clover
tall fescue and annual ryegrass in tests planted in 2008 to 2011 across
three sites in Ohio: South Charleston, Wooster, and North Baltimore. For
more details on forage species and management, see the Ohio Agronomy
Guide, Ohio State University
Extension Bulletin 472, (available online at
Yield data are reported
in Tables 2 through 11. Details
of establishment and management of each test are listed in footnotes below
the tables. Least significant differences (LSD) are listed at the bottom of
Tables 3 through 10. Differences
between varieties are significant only if they are equal to or greater than
the LSD value. If a given
variety out yields another variety by as much or more than the LSD value,
then we are 95% sure that the yield difference is real, with only a 5%
probability that the difference is due to chance alone.
For example, if variety X is 0.50 ton/acre higher in yield than
variety Y, then this difference is statistically significant if the LSD is
0.50 or less. If the LSD is 0.51
or greater, then we are less confident that variety X really is higher
yielding than variety Y under the conditions of the test.
The CV value or
coefficient of variation, listed at the bottom of each table is used as a
measure of the precision of the experiment. Lower CV values will generally
relate to lower experimental error in the trial.
Uncontrollable or unmeasured variations in soil fertility, soil
drainage, and other environmental factors contribute to greater experimental
error and higher CV values.
Results reported here
should be representative of what might occur throughout the state but would
be most applicable under environmental and management conditions similar to
those of the tests. The relative
yields of all forage legume varieties are affected by crop management and by
environmental factors including soil type, winter conditions, soil moisture
conditions, diseases, and insects.
Alfalfa has the highest
combined yield and quality potential of any adapted perennial forage grown
in Ohio. It is the state's
largest single hay crop, being grown on about one-half of the total hay
acres. Alfalfa requires
well-drained soils with near-neutral pH (6.5-7.0) for greatest production
and persistence. Alfalfa trials
are initiated each year and data is collected for at least four years unless
the stand becomes so depleted that further testing is no longer worthwhile;
variety performance should be evaluated over several sites and years.
for Selecting Alfalfa Varieties
To capitalize on
alfalfa's potential, select high-yielding varieties with resistance to
these factors when selecting alfalfa varieties for Ohio:
Yield. Yield is the major factor
in determining profitability of an alfalfa stand. Select varieties with high
yields over several locations and years.
Table 2 shows this comparison in percent of the average yield.
Varieties that perform equally well across several locations and
years are probably adapted to a wider range of environmental conditions.
Stable yield performance across several environments is important because
soils may vary on your farm and weather conditions vary from year to year.
Conditions on most farms are such that several varieties may perform
Another important consideration beyond yield
is how long the stand will last. Study variety performance by age of stand
to get an estimate of longevity of stand productivity.
Some varieties may decline with age more rapidly than others. This
may influence your choice of variety depending on how long you intend to
keep the stand in production.
For long-term rotations, choose varieties with good disease
resistance and good performance in the fourth year of production. If you
plan to harvest alfalfa for three years or less, then high performance
during early years of the stand should be given major consideration.
Fall dormancy (FD).
Alfalfa varieties with fall
dormancy ratings of 1 through 5 are considered adequately winter hardy for
Ohio conditions while those of 6 or higher are not considered adapted.
Varieties with higher fall dormancy ratings tend to grow at a lower
temperature, so they begin to grow earlier in the spring and later into the
fall, extending the growing season.
The fall dormancy rating does not correlate well with winter
hardiness within the range of varieties adapted to the Midwest USA.
Variety selection based on yield performance alone is less
satisfactory than selections that also consider disease resistance
characteristics. Resistance to
specific disease-causing pathogens may be the most important attribute in an
alfalfa variety. Pathogens can
dramatically reduce yield and persistence of susceptible varieties. In an
evaluation of older versus newer alfalfa varieties we found that varieties
released in the mid-1990ís yielded more and persisted longer than older
varieties, primarily because of improved resistance to diseases that
affected the trial. For more information on alfalfa diseases and varietal
resistance to specific diseases, go to the following websites:
Alfalfa varieties have been developed for resistance
to potato leafhopper (PLH), which is the most consistently damaging insect
pest of alfalfa in Ohio. This report includes several trials where yield
tolerance to PLH damage is being evaluated. The PLH resistant varieties are
not resistant to the alfalfa weevil, and they will need to be protected from
that pest like all standard alfalfa varieties when weevil populations exceed
the economic action threshold. For more information on insect management in
alfalfa, see the following website:
Compare to check variety.
For comparisons of varieties across several trials, always compare
varieties to the same check planted within the trial. The variety Vernal is
used as a check in all Ohio trials.
Use good management.
No variety can produce well under poor management. Good management
considers all aspects of alfalfa production: seed bed preparation, liming
and fertilization, seeding, pest control, harvest, storage, and post harvest
treatment. Many newer varieties are better adapted to intensive management.
Summary of 2011 Crop Conditions
was above normal for the season at all locations and monthly departures were
above normal with only a few exceptions (Table 1). At South Charleston and
N. Baltimore rainfall was more than 10 inches above the long-term average.
Temperatures were well above normal for most of the growing season with the
exception of September at S. Charleston and August and September at N.
Baltimore and few exceptions (Table 1).
The trials at North
Baltimore had the highest yields, averaging over 8 tons/acre and higher than
the average yield in 2010. A new spring seeding at South Charleston had to
be delayed until August due to the wet weather.
First harvest yields at South Charleston and Wooster were well below
normal due to the rainfall. Alfalfa stands at S. Charleston declined
significantly during the growing season.
Alfalfa weevil populations were low at all sites and no insecticide
was required for their control. Insecticide applications were used at all
locations for control of potato leafhopper (PLH) in the standard yield
trials. No insecticide was applied to control PLH in the alfalfa yield trial
used to assess potato leafhopper resistance at South Charleston, seeded in
2008 (Table 6). High leafhopper
populations resulted in significant yield differences among varieties at the
June, July, and September harvests in 2011 and the total over four years in
that trial. Leafhopper resistant varieties are not resistant to alfalfa
weevil, and need to be treated with insecticides if weevil populations
exceed action thresholds.
Potato Leafhopper Resistant Alfalfa
was applied to control potato leafhopper in the alfalfa yield trial for
potato leafhopper resistance conducted at South Charleston, Ohio.
High leafhopper populations resulted in significant yield differences
among varieties. Leafhopper resistant varieties are not resistant to alfalfa
weevil, and will need to be treated with insecticides if weevil populations
exceed action thresholds.
Red & White
Red and white clover
trials were seeded in 2010 at South Charleston.
Trials were sprayed after the first harvest for potato Leafhopper
(PLH) control to aid new growth due to the high numbers of PLH.
Red clover is better adapted than alfalfa to soils that are somewhat
poorly drained and slightly acidic; however, greatest production will occur
on well-drained soils with high water-holding capacity and pH above 6.0. Red
clover is not as productive as alfalfa in the summer and it generally
persists for a shorter time than alfalfa. New varieties are capable of
persisting into a third year. While clover is a short-lived perennial that
is well suited for pastures. It spreads and persists over time by vegetative
propagation of stolons and by natural reseeding. White clover tolerates
periods of poor drainage.
The tall fescue trial of
endophyte-free varieties established at South Charleston in 2008 averaged
4.71 tons/acre. New varieties that are endophyte free or that contain a
non-toxic endophyte (eg., Jessup Max Q) have potential to increase animal
performance, especially during the summer grazing season, and to provide
forage for beef cattle and sheep during autumn and early winter.
reports yield of the trial seeded in fall 2010.
Due to low rainfall there was no harvestable yield in the fall of
2010. Therefore, total yield represents dates collected in 2011 only. The
first harvest was later than usual, which increased yield (but lowered
forage quality), the warm and moist summer conditions in 2011 promoted
reports yield of the trial seeded in September of 2011 and includes only one
harvest date this November. That
trial will be continued into 2012 where ranking of varieties may change.
Annual ryegrass is a cool-season annual bunch grass that is highly
palatable and digestible. It has high seedling vigor and is well adapted to
either conventional or no-till establishment methods.
Inclusion of entries in Ohio Alfalfa
Performance Trials does not constitute an endorsement of a particular entry by
The Ohio State University, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, or
Ohio State University Extension. Where trade names appear, no discrimination is
intended, and no endorsement is implied by The Ohio State University, Ohio
Agricultural Research and Development Center, or Ohio State University
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Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30,
1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Keith L. Smith,
Director, Ohio State University Extension.