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New Alfalfa Varieties Are Saline And Grazing Tolerant

South Dakota alfalfa producers have two new varieties to consider this growing season. SalinityMax Alfalfa is a salt tolerant variety developed to thrive in saline soils and PasturePlus Alfalfa is a grazing tolerant variety, developed to thrive in pasture mixes, says Eric Mousel, Millborn Seeds alfalfa and forage specialist.

"These varieties were developed in the Dakotas to solve two common challenges South Dakota alfalfa producers face," Mousel said. "They both carry disease, nematode and insect resistant packages as good as any conventional variety of alfalfa."

Reclaiming the soil

The recent wet weather cycle and increased moisture has turned some otherwise productive acres into saline soils. Getting alfalfa or other crops to grow in these higher moisture and saline soils has become a challenge for many South Dakota farmers. Because SalinityMax Alfalfa was developed to tolerate saline soils, it not only serves as a good forage option, but also as a reclamation tool, says Mousel.

"SalinityMax will actually draw the salt out of the soil over time. Growers can use it to correct a soil. Once the soil is healthy, they can go in and plant the acres back to cash crops," says Mousel, adding that the variety also succeeds in high moisture soils that do not have salinity issues.

A Grazing Companion

Adapted to poorly drained soils, PasturePlus Alfalfa has some unique structural features which make it a good choice to add to a pasture mix. Unlike conventional alfalfa, which has a tap root, this variety was developed with a branch root system. This branch root system holds the plant securely during freeze and thaw cycles, making it more grazing resistant and winter hardy.

Its root system isn't its only structural difference. PasturePlus Alfalfa is also a more palatable plant, explains Mousel.

"This alfalfa variety is very compatible with grass because it doesn't have as much lignin and structural carbohydrates, lending to higher nutritional quality," Mousel says.

To learn more about SalinityMax and PasturePlus alfalfa, or the selection of Roundup Ready varieties Millborn Seeds has to offer, contact Eric Mousel at 888-498-7333 or [email protected].