Upcoming Alfalfa Varieties Will Further Increase Farmer Profitability
By Legacy Seeds | July 7, 2022
Every alfalfa seed placed in a Legacy Seed bag is designed to achieve one goal: increase farmer profitability. And research on the newest varieties our alfalfa breeding team has in development shows farmers can expect to see their bottom lines growing even more.
Higher Performance in Upcoming Varieties
High yield is one of the pillars of Legacy Seed’s alfalfa breeding program and upcoming varieties are showing promising results.
Dave Robison, Legacy Seed alfalfa business manager, says these varieties are yielding 5+% higher than current Legacy seed. That’s on top of the yield advantages farmers already see with Legacy Seed alfalfa, which means the true yield advantage over competitors will be closer to 7-10%.
“We should be looking at one half ton per acre per year advantage,” Dave says.
But alfalfa growers need more than high yield to be profitable. Which is why the second pillar of the breeding program is strong persistence. Research data from our southwestern Wisconsin location found as much as a 50% difference in persistence between Legacy varieties and top competitors’ varieties. After three winters, Legacy Seed alfalfa had over 90% persistence, while some competing seed brands were in the 40% range.
“For most farmers, they would be planting corn into those fields that only have half a stand,” Dave says. “Whereas on our alfalfa, they’ll go ahead and harvest the alfalfa field, which makes it very profitable.”
It’s why Josh Silverthorn of Silver-Shea Holsteins in Omro, WI, calls Legacy alfalfa “as a consistent hay as we’ve ever used. Four- to five-year stands that continue to bring tonnage and quality. We wouldn’t have used it for 10 years if it weren’t.”
To achieve that persistence, alfalfa needs to have our third breeding pillar: outstanding disease resistance.
Legacy Seed alfalfa has always had strong disease resistance, thanks to the breeding work of Dave Huset. And since Olivia Steinmetz joined the program “she’s been able to do excellent pathology work,” Dave says, which has only increased their resistance.
“The disease resistance package is growing,” he says. “Meaning we have resistance to more diseases and better resistance to the current main diseases.”
The breeding team is specifically improving resistance to major diseases like multiple races of aphanomyces root rot, as well as other concerns such as anthracnose five, fusarium wilt, and phytophthora root rot.
The final key pillars of Legacy Seed alfalfa are improved digestibility and quality. If an experimental variety doesn’t meet the high standards set by our breeding team for digestibility, it won’t be included in the HD® program, even if it’s high-yielding and has top persistence.
It takes between 5 and 9 years for a new variety to come to market, to ensure the seed is truly a better product than what we currently offer. These varieties are currently in year five of development, so we expect to bring them to the market in a few years.
Proving the Legacy Difference on Real Farms
We don’t want farmers to just take our word that Legacy Seed is a superior product. We want them to see the proof themselves.
So this year we launched a grower-conducted, side-by-side trial program on about 30 farms across Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Dakotas. These farmers are all new to the Legacy brand and will be growing Legacy alfalfa next to the varieties they typically plant.
“We want farmers to see, and we anticipate them seeing, that our emergence is outstanding and improved over many of the competitors like we see at our research farm,” Dave says. “We also hope that they see that the yield will be improved, as well as the quality and persistence.”
Our goal is to develop a relationship with these farmers so they can truly see the Legacy difference is real from emergence through persistence. We will be sharing early reports on the side-by-side program soon and will continue to provide updates as the trials progress.
Farmer Profitability Our Sole Focus
As an independent breeder, our priority is always on our customers. We’ve been very consistent with our key pillars because those pillars are what bring additional profitability to the farmer. And that’s ultimately what drives the Legacy program.
“It’s why we breed alfalfa,” Dave says. “We need our farmers to have the best opportunity for profitability.”