2012 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
Joe Davlin, 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 2012, including commercial
varieties of alfalfa, red clover, white clover tall fescue and annual
ryegrass in tests planted in 2009 to 2012 across three sites in Ohio: South
Charleston, Wooster, and North Baltimore. For more details on forage species
and management, see the
Guide, Ohio State University Extension Bulletin
472, which can be purchased from Ohio State University Extension's eStore at
Yield data are reported
in Tables 2 through 10. 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
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 2012 Crop Conditions
below normal for the season at all locations and monthly departures were
below normal except for September and October (Table 1). At South Charleston
and N. Baltimore rainfall was 2.30 to 3.89 below the long-term average.
Temperatures were well above normal for most of the growing season with the
exception of September and October.
The trials at North
Baltimore had the highest yields, averaging over 6.5 tons/acre but lower
than the average yield in 2010 and 2011. A new spring seeding at North
Baltimore suffered from the drought with an average yield of 1.55 ton/acre.
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
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, but does poorly in dry weather, as shown by
the low yields (Table 8) compared with red clover (Table 7).
The tall fescue trial of endophyte-free varieties established at South
Charleston in 2008 averaged 5.66 tons/acre in 2012. 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
reports yield of the trial seeded in September of 2011 and includes only one
harvest date for 2011. The trial
continued into 2012 with three additional harvests.
With the early warm temperatures we were able to take the first
cutting in early April that is not typical.
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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1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Keith L. Smith,
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