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Aphanomyces root rot disease infects roots of the alfalfa plant early after seedling emergence, causing stunting, reduced nodulation and poor root development in seedlings. Visual symptoms usually include roots that have a gray, water-soaked appearance; yellowed cotyledons; stunted growth; and limited yields.
Aphanomyces root rot disease is commonly found in soils that are saturated, poorly drained, compacted or have limited water dispersal. This disease is spread by water-motile spores, which can survive in dead plant tissue and remain dormant in the soil for up to 10 years or longer, even without a host.
For more than three decades, alfalfa breeders have used conventional alfalfa breeding techniques to select for improved forage quality. The most advanced alfalfa today, HarvXtra™ alfalfa offers farmers more flexibility in cutting schedules to achieve greater yield potential or improved forage quality. It does this by modifying lignin content beyond what is possible with conventional breeding. HarvXtra™ alfalfa gives farmers options, not limits.
Varieties developed from conventional alfalfa breeding techniques generally show an incremental improvement in forage quality when compared to non-selected varieties. Examples of cultivars selected for improved forage quality include the CROPLAN® LegenDairy series and Hi-Gest® alfalfa from Alforex.
Potato leafhopper is a small, light-green insect (3 mm long) that feeds on alfalfa plants. Feeding can cause leaf tips to display a V-shaped yellowing, and severe infestations will result in stunted plant growth. Most severe potato leafhopper feeding occurs in new seedings during the summer months. It is also important to monitor pressure in established stands on 1st, 2nd and 3rd cutting regrowth.
Alfalfa varieties with glandular hairs have high resistance to PLH. Forage yield potential of the new PLH FD 4 varieties is comparable to conventional varieties in the absence of PLH. These resistant varieties allow for increased management flexibility with an option for reduced insecticide treatment.
Parasitic nematodes are microscopic roundworms that can reduce alfalfa yield and stand life. Several species of nematodes have been identified as damaging to alfalfa.
Nematodes live in the soil, surface irrigation water, alfalfa roots and crown tissue, and have been identified throughout most of the West and Plains region to cause significant damage to alfalfa. Plants infested and injured by nematodes are often predisposed to secondary infection by other diseases.
Control nematodes by planting resistant varieties on clean ground. Cut healthy fields first and infected fields last. Rotate every two to three years with a non-host species such as corn, small grains or beans.