What is certified alfalfa seed?
Where from can we buy certified alfalfa seed?
Many alfalfa cultivators face the problem of gaps in culture in the year 4-5 since its establishment, and this is associated with the physiological depletion of plants. However, things become more worrying when the density of plants in relation to the unit area is reduced from the first years after the establishment of the crop.
In the second case, the first measure taken into account is to correct the density of the plants by overseeding. But will this help in improving the culture?
Overseeding in alfalfa cultivation is inefficient for several reasons:
First of all, alfalfa is a slow-growing perennial plant in the early stages of development and this will create uneven competition with mature plants and weeds for light, water and nutrients.
Second, if the cause of this is not identified, the plants will disappear again in the overseeded areas.
Third, mature alfalfa plants produce autotoxins that reduce the development of young plants and suppress sprouting seedlings.
However, there are also situations in which the overseeding of alfalfa surfaces is successful:
- when on the surface that is being sown, the crop was established in late autumn at the end of the sowing season, and some of the seedlings were affected by frost;
- also in the case of the 1st year of cultivation the over-sowing gave results, when the surface was flooded and the plants perished in an early stage of development;
- if the alfalfa was established on land with a high reserve of pests or diseases and the degree of emergence was considerably influenced by this.
In the case of cultivating alfalfa for fodder, we can very well overseed a low-density crop with other annual or perennial fodder plants (Sudan grass, Lolium multiflorum, Festuca pratensis, Festuca arundinacea etc.); sown in autumn or early spring, these species will be in vegetation in spring, before or together with alfalfa plants, and on the other hand they will adapt better in areas of the plot where the soil is less beneficial for alfalfa.
The alfalfa seed harvesting campaign for the 2020 season has started. Among the first plots harvested was a plot with the variety being registered: 4AG08. The estimated seed production is about 500 kg / ha in the conditions of a very difficult year for seed production. The crop was established in 2018, and the seeds were harvested at the first mowing.
„Alfalfa is a very old plant on Earth. It was brought to us from other countries, far from here, from the East, where it grows wild, as we grow wild mustard and oats. Alfalfa is well-liked in our country as in all countries in the South. Although our winters are a bit cold, she, if she has enough heat in the summer -as she always has with us-, it works great. So one of the assets of this plant is that it is suitable everywhere in our country.”
A. Carabella-Giurgiu – „Everything that can be said about alfalfa”, 1910
With a tradition of over a century and a half, alfalfa culture occupies a leading place in our country. The choice of alfalfa variety is an extremely important detail in the alfalfa crop equation. Romanian alfalfa varieties have demonstrated over time a higher productive potential, due to their adaptation to climatic conditions of Romania. The high resistance to drought and frost, but also the large amount of fodder harvested are just a few features that recommend the local varieties.
The alfalfa varieties described below are our bet for a successful crop.
- It is a variety of alfalfa obtained by the Fundulea National Institute for Agricultural Research and Development, approved in Romania and Russia;
- It has a very high ecological plasticity and is adapted to different growing conditions;
- It is cultivated in areas with sunny arable lands, with deep, permeable and well aerated soils from the Romanian Plain, the Danube Meadow and Delta, the Transylvanian Plain, the Western Plain, including the Banat Plain, but also higher areas;
- The fodder is used as a green mass, hay and silo;
- The production potential is high (12 – 21 t / ha S.U._ and 60 – 110 t / ha of green mass);
- Maximum yield is obtained with irrigation.
- It is a semi-early variety with resistance to drought;
- It is a variety cultivated successfully both in the plain area, and in the plateau area of our country;
- It has a long service life of 4-5 years;
- The plant develops a favorable leaf / stem ratio. The nutritional value of the fodder is high, as well as the productive potential (12 – 15 tons / hectare with the classic technology and 16 – 19 tons / hectare with the intensive technology);
- The feed is used under the form of hay, green mass or silage;
- Under favorable conditions, a quantity of seed of 500 – 780 kg per hectare can be obtained.
- The Mihaela alfalfa variety is characterized by high quality, production and adaptability;
- It is cultivated on a large area in most plains in Romania due to high resistance to drought in summer;
- Hay has special features:
- 19.85% protein;
- 1450 kcal / kg S.U.;
- 71% digestibility.
- Mihaela is a variety with a good tolerance to Fusarium wilt (Fusarium oxysporum);
- The inflorescence is oval-globular-shaped, the flowers are blue-purple;
- It has good perennials and it is recommended for being cultivated mixed with perennial grasses;
- The seed has a mass between 2 and 2.2 grams for 1,000 grains.
- It is a Romanian alfalfa variety that is cultivated mainly in the plain area, but with good results in the hilly area;
- It has high resistance to low temperatures without a layer of snow. The variety has a rich foliage and high protein content;
- The amount of hay is estimated between 14-20 tons per hectare;
- The feed has the following characteristics:
- Crude protein: 19.68% of S.U.;
- Digestibility coefficient: 72%;
- Nutritional units 0.95 U.N. / kg S.U.
- The seed obtained per hectare is between 400 – 800 kilograms in optimal conditions.
- It has a good ability to regenerate after being mowed.
- High production potential;
- Resistance to drought;
- Rapid regeneration.
This newly created variety is the result of the collaboration between Patru Agro and the Department of Forage Plants at USAMV Bucharest. The variety is being tested in year 3 at the State Institute for Variety Testing and Registration (ISTIS) in Romania. The tests looked at the productivity of this variety, but also at other extremely important properties, such as regeneration capacity, resistance to drought, resistance to falling and resistance to diseases. The positive results obtained in the test fields certify the superior qualities of the variety.
Basic biological properties of variety 4AG07 obtained in the ISTIS network in year 1 (2016)
|Variety||Growing vigor (grade)||Resistance to drought (grade)||Resistance to falling (grade)||Resistance to diseases (grade)|
Variety 4AG07 is noted for its high resistance to drought and falling. Maximum resistance to drought in year 1 reduces farmers’ risks of setting up an alfalfa crop in dry years, when water shortages can be a determining factor in its success. The biological properties in the second year of the 4AG07 variety make it stand out also from the viewpoint of the regeneration capacity, but also of the other biological properties, aspects that in the end are reflected in the superior production increase.
Results from year 2 (2017)
|Variety||Regeneration capacity (grade)||Resistance to drought (grade)||Resistance to falling (grade)||Resistance to diseases (grade)|
Scoring system: 1 – very good, 3 – good, 5 – medium, 7 – poor, 9 – very poor.
Variety 4AG07 (Dobrogea)
We present to you a control field with the alfalfa variety 4AG07, a new, Romanian variety with high production potential. This demonstration group aims to test the production capacity, as well as to improve the seed production technology.
The crop was established in autumn and 2 sowing schemes were used, with a distance between rows of 35 cm and 70 cm.
The essential elements for seed production are:
- The distance between the rows must allow mechanical weeding, so that we can control weeds;
- 3 treatments are required: the first for budding, the second for flowering and the third for the formation of pods;
- Pollination is important because the plant cannot self-pollinate. In this sense, it is recommended that the plots for seed production be located near hedges, forests, meadows or other areas that shelter natural pollinators;
- The time of harvest is when 70-75% of the pods have browned. 3-4 days before harvesting it is recommended to use a desiccant.
When harvesting, combine harvesters will be used, which allow specific adjustments to the harvesting of small seeds, in order to reduce losses.
Alfalfa is the plant that gives the highest amount of crude protein per unit area (1,980 kg / ha) and 18-20% crude protein in dry matter, 50% more than soybeans and 60% more than corn grains. These are just some of the strengths that make alfalfa one of the most profitable crops.
Due to this, many people think about cultivating alfalfa, some of them being at the first experience of this kind. As profitable as it is, there are some mistakes that should be avoided, so that this culture does not bring significant losses to those who decide to embrace it.
The number one mistake to avoid is choosing alfalfa growing areas. Areas with high, rocky altitudes, soils with a high degree of erosion should be avoided.
The number 2 mistake is choosing soils with poorly fertile soils and acidic pH. Before setting up the crop, it is recommended to perform a soil analysis to determine its quality.
Mistake number 3 is the preparation of the germination bed and the sowing technique. Good soil shredding, compaction before sowing, as well as careful adjustment of the sowing depth (1 – 1.5 cm) are crucial details in the success of alfalfa growers.
Mistake number 4 is not monitoring the culture after sprouting. If you do not apply treatments with insecticides, fungicides and herbicides at the right time, you will be surprised to see that alfalfa plants will disappear from your fields.
The mistake number 5 is usually made by farmers who are very experienced in other agricultural crops, except alfalfa, who treat things superficially and do not get enough information about the basic rules for setting up this crop. In their case we have the following request:
„Dear collaborators, consult the people specialized in this culture, and we are at your service.”
It is granted to active farmers who meet the provisions of art.43 of the O.M.A.D.R. no. 619/2015, with subsequent amendments and addenda, namely:
In the case of alfalfa seed lots, the farmer shall present the invoice or tab(s) in the marketing record for products from the agricultural sector showing the marketing of at least 200 kg of certified alfalfa seed / hectare to alfalfa growers whose holdings are located in the national territory. , or the invoice for alfalfa seed multiplication services issued to the keeper or holder of that variety, showing that he has delivered at least 200 kg of certified seed / hectare.
If the invoice for multiplication services is issued to the variety holder, the farmer also presents the contract between the maintainer and the variety holder and uses the officially certified seed from the pre-base, base and certified categories, in accordance with Law no. 266/2002, with MADR Order no. 155/2010 on the production for sale and sale of fodder plant seeds and MADR Order no. 59/2011 for the approval of the procedures regarding the specific requirements for the production, certification and commercialization of cereal seeds, oil plants and fibers and fodder plants in Romania.
In the case of using certified seed from the own production, the farmer shall present the official certificate(s) certifying the seed lot(s).
The invoice for the purchase of the seeds is accompanied by the official certification document of the seed lot or the Official Analysis Bulletin, with the mention „seed allowed for sowing”.
For 2017, the seed producers who met the above-mentioned conditions received 320 euros per hectare, an amount to which is added the greening quota in the amount of 50 euros per hectare. The subsidy quota for 2018 related to alfalfa seed lots will be established by the Agency for Payments and Intervention for Agriculture (APIA) until April 1, 2018.
The deadline for submitting supporting documents to APIA is March 31st of the year following the current application year.
Alfalfa is a major consumer of nutrients
Nitrogen is provided mostly symbiotically from soil reserves, but for high and constant yields, especially in dry regions, it is recommended to apply low doses of nitrogen (N30-35) at the beginning of spring. On soils with low content of humus (<2%) and nitrogen, nitrogen doses needed may be higher (N40-60), applied in early spring or fractionally, after the first harvests.
Fertilization of alfalfa with nitrogen fertilizers did not prove economically efficient when it was grown in pure culture, but when it was grown in mixtures with perennial grasses, especially on soils whose humus content was less than 2.2-2.5%, a moderate dose of nitrogen fertilizer proved to be economically effective.
Phosphorus and potassium are applied depending on the soil content in these elements. For alfalfa, the optimal soil content in phosphorus is 8-10 mg / 100 g soil, and in potassium, 18-22 mg / 100 g soil (I. Moga, 1973; C. Bărbulescu et al., 1991; I Moga et al., 1996).
Phosphorus has an important role in the assimilation of nitrogen, the synthesis of proteins and carbohydrates. The normal supply of phosphorus soil at the establishment of the alfalfa culture determines a good development of the root system.
The effect of phosphorus deficiency during this period cannot be compensated in the following years. Phosphorus fertilizers, in doses of 30-120 kg / ha (higher doses in irrigated conditions and on acidic soils), are applied when doing soil tillage and then every 2-3 years.
Potassium has an important role in increasing the resistance of plants to drought, by reducing perspiration. In general, the soils of our country are well supplied with potassium, except for the acidic ones. Potassium fertilizers are applied in the same way as phosphorus fertilizers.
Manure is well exploited by alfalfa on all types of soil, but especially on acidic and irrigated land. In the case of alfalfa, manure is used optimally when it is administered to annual fodder crops, the alfalfa rotating in the third year after administration. Manure can be applied to the preceding plant or directly to the alfalfa crop, under the basic plowing. During crop use, well-fermented manure is applied to the soil surface during the cold season. When manure is used, nitrogen and potassium fertilizers are given up, and those with phosphorus are reduced by up to 50-60%. The most effective doses are 35-40 t / ha for non-irrigated soil and 60-80 t / ha for irrigated soil.
An important role in the nutrition of alfalfa plants is also played by microelements, especially molybdenum, boron, sulfur and cobalt, which stimulate the process of fixing nitrogen in a symbiotic way, iron, manganese and zinc, as a catalyst in the process of photosynthesis.
The most economical and complete source of soil supply with microelements is manure.
The application of calcium amendments is recommended on acid soils, with pH (H2O) <6.2 and the degree of base saturation (V%) <80%.
The amendments are incorporated under the basic plowing, together with the manure and the fertilizers with phosphorus and potassium, after having previously been well crushed, evenly dispersed and homogenized with the superficial layer of the soil, through 1-2 passes with the disc harrow.
Spring or autumn?
When sowing alfalfa, we must first take into account the fulfillment of the conditions for germination and sprouting of seeds. Thus, at the depth of sowing, there must be enough moisture for the seeds to germinate and the alfalfa seedlings to grow. Thus, we can say that alfalfa is pretentious to the humidity conditions when sprouting.
Secondly, after sprouting it is necessary to have the necessary heat, in order to be able to grow. If we meet these conditions, sowing can be done both in autumn and spring. Taking into account the climatic conditions in Romania, in most years, when sowing in autumn we must fulfill the need for water by irrigation.
The advantage of sowing in autumn is that we have a crop that starts faster in vegetation (growth) in the spring of the next year, and thus this ensures a higher production, and at the same time less weeding.
Sowing in spring has the advantage of providing the necessary water for sprouting from rainfall in most years, but a higher risk of weeding of the crop, thus requiring a weed control program.
The dormancy for alfalfa is given by the height of the plant 25 days after the harvest, for the culture established in spring.
To determine the degree of dormancy, a grading system from 1 to 11 is used. The varieties with dormancy 1 are the most dormant and those with dormancy 11 are the least dormant.
Long-dormant varieties easily survive harsh winters and survive low temperatures, but do not excel in fodder production.
The less dormant varieties achieve high fodder yields, materialized as a larger number of mowing activities, but are not very resistant to frost.
For the Romanian climate, after several years of research it was concluded that the varieties with a dormancy between 4 and 5 are the most efficient. This range ensures a good balance between fodder production and resistance to low temperatures.
It is important for all alfalfa cultivators to know that subsidies of between 55 and 100 euros per hectare can be obtained, at the expense of coupled support. These amounts will increase in stages by 2020.
What must be done in order to benefit from this money?
Let’s prove that the production obtained will be consumed on the farm, by our own animals.
If the farm does not have a livestock, we will make contracts with other livestock farms or alfalfa processors.
Let’s not forget the greening package where we can receive another 53 euros per hectare. This package is valid for all growers with an area of more than 15 hectares cultivated, of which 5% must be represented by green crops, which includes alfalfa.
If we take into account the single payment per hectare in the amount of 77 euros, we will total an amount of 185 euros for one hectare cultivated with alfalfa.