An estimated 800,000 acres of Roundup Ready alfalfa is expected to be planted in the U.S. next year, but a ruling by a federal court judge halting the sale of the seed has the industry wondering if there is enough conventional alfalfa seed to plant new stands this fall and next spring.
According to University of California Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor Shannon Mueller of Fresno County, it is unlikely there will be a shortage of conventional alfalfa seed in the West next year.
“We didn't shift 100 percent of our seed production acreage to Roundup Ready varieties,” she says. “There has always been a place for conventional alfalfa varieties in the market. Seed companies and producers continue to grow them.”
There is about 20,000 acres of Roundup Ready alfalfa seed field established in the West. The seed can be harvested, just not sold, if the judge's ruling is not overturned.
However, if California alfalfa growers are concerned about available conventional seed supplies, Mueller suggests buying early.
“Get ready in advance, pick your varieties, and get your orders in early at your dealer,” she says. “An issue that could reduce conventional seed alfalfa supply concerns is the conversion of some alfalfa acreage to corn production for the ethanol market.”