Demand for both conventional and RR alfalfas is strong now. Waldo predicted retail prices will go up, as seed producers are forced to compete with other crops and pay more for honey bees to pollinate the seed crop.

Waldo told the seed dealers that growers who produce Roundup Ready alfalfa, find it “hard to go back to conventional varieties.”

Some of the reasons for that, according to Monsanto’s Jeff Herrmann: RR alfalfa is higher quality than conventional alfalfa. It also yields more and stand life is longer.

However, like all herbicide resistance crops, there is the issue of weed resistance in alfalfa just like corn, cotton and soybeans.

Herrmann admonished growers to be diligent in identifying escapes after a herbicide application. Find out if escapes are an application issue or weed resistance to glyphosate. This is especially critical in the 60-day stand establishment period which is when most of the Roundup is applied for weed control.

“We must protect the trait,” he said.

“There are different levels of resistance,” he added. Use a full rate of 32 ounces per acre to avoid resistance and treat weeds when they are small, “especially in the West where you often have dry, dusty conditions at application time.” This inhibits herbicide effectiveness, he says.

Add ammonium sulfate (AMS) if the mixing water is hard. Use a liquid AMS form, even though it is more expensive. A quarter percent surfactant also will help when conditions are dry.

Herrmann said Monsanto is working on getting a herbicide named Warrant labeled for alfalfa. It is an Acetochlor-based pre-emergence and post emergent residual herbicide now used in cotton and soybeans. It has a 30-day control period.

It controls Palmer pigweed, waterhemp, lambsquarters, nightshade, foxtails, and other small-seeded grasses and broadleaf weeds.

Herrmann hopes Warrant is labeled for alfalfa by 2016.

Herrmann also said Monsanto’s BioDirect technology could play a role in the distant future. BioDirect technology uses molecules found in nature to develop topically applied crop protection, including weed control. This, says Herrmann, will come by the end of the decade.

 

 

Cutlines

 

Jeremy Hayward, brand manager for W-L Alfalfas, is predicting another increase in alfalfa seed sales this year.

 

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