2013 Ohio Forage Performance Trials
J.S. McCormick, Research Associate, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science
R.M. Sulc, Professor / Extension Forage Agronomist, Dept. of Horticulture and Crop Science
D. J. Barker, 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 2013, including commercial
varieties of alfalfa, red clover, white clover and annual ryegrass in tests
planted in 2010 to 2013 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 CV values. However, higher CV values
can also occur simply as a result of the mean yield being low (eg. due to
weather conditions), because the CV is a function of the mean yield. So a
higher CV will often occur where yields are low despite there being no
increase in experimental error.
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 problem diseases. Alfalfa variety rankings for a number of
traits described below are reported on the University of Wisconsin forage
these factors when selecting alfalfa varieties for Ohio:
is critical to 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 test yield. Varieties that perform equally well
across several locations and years are adapted to a wider range of
environmental conditions, which is important because soils may vary on your
farm and weather conditions vary from year to year.
Another important consideration is how long the alfalfa stand
will last. Study variety performance by age of stand to get an estimate of
longevity of productivity. Some varieties may decline with age more rapidly
than others, which may influence your variety choice depending on how long
you intend to keep the stand. For long-term rotations, choose varieties with
good disease resistance and good performance in the fourth year. If you plan
to harvest alfalfa for three years or less, then high performance during the
first three years should be given priority.
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 growth
earlier in the spring and continue growth later into the fall. 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 newer varieties 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. 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 variety planted within
the trial. The variety Vernal is used as a check in all Ohio trials and is
commonly included in trials in other states. Another good way to compare
varieties across trials is to look at their yield in relation to the trial
average reported in Table 2.
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 2013 Crop Conditions
Total rainfall for the season was above normal at all locations, with the greatest deviation being at N. Baltimore (4.6 inches above normal). Rainfall in May and August was well below normal at all locations. Average monthly temperatures were above normal in May, but tended to be below normal for July through October at all locations.
The established trial at Wooster had the highest yields, averaging over
6.90 tons/acre and just over one ton more than the average yield in 2011 and
2012. A new spring seeding at Wooster performed very well with three
harvests taken for a total annual yield of 4.05 tons / acre when averaged
across all varieties. Alfalfa weevil populations were present at North
Baltimore and required an insecticide application. Insecticide applications
were used at all locations for control of potato leafhopper (PLH) in the
standard yield trials.
Red & White
Red and white clover trials were seeded in 2013 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.
This trial (Table 9) was harvested once in November 2012 and four times
in 2013. Excellent growing conditions with adequate rainfall at this site
through June provided for high yields of annual ryegrass this year. The
second trial (Table 10) was planted in September of 2013 and was only
harvested once in 2013. Additional harvest for the second trial will occur
in 2014. 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 Extension.
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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.