Alfalfa Variety Trial in Cochise County, Arizona, 1997

L.J. Clark and E.W. Carpenter



Fourteen alfalfa varieties with fall dormancy ratings from 6 to 9 were tested in replicated small plot trials on the Kibler farm in Stewart District northwest of Willcox. The leading variety after three years of testing was DeKalb 189 with a dry matter yield of 8 tons per acre. Heat units with temperature thresholds of 77 F and 40 F are given for each cutting.



This is the third year of alfalfa variety testing in the high deserts of southeastern Arizona above 4000 foot elevation. Approximately 7000 acres of alfalfa are grown in Arizona near this elevation bringing in an income over six million dollars. An increased yield of 10% over that acreage could be seen by switching to the best variety available, this would have a value of $600,000 county wide in one year. This study is maintained to help alfalfa growers select the best variety for their location.

Materials and Methods

In September of 1994 fourteen varieties of alfalfa were planted in Cochise county with fall dormancy (FD) ratings varying from 6 to 9. It was felt that an FD rating of 8 would be the most appropriate for the area, but two 6's, one 7 and one 9 were included in the test to expand the diversity of the genetic material in the trial. The plots were planted with a single row, hand planter in lines 6 inches apart. The plots were 4 rows wide and fourteen feet long. The following crop history describes the treatment of the experiment:

Crop History:

Location: Kibler Farm, northwest of Willcox, AZ
Elevation: 4300 feet above sea level
Soil type: Cogswell clay loam/McAllister loam
Planting date: 26 September, 1994      Rate: 25 lbs/acre
Herbicide: None
Fertilizer: 200 lbs/ac 11-52-0 at planting, 13 gal UN 32 (for oats) in 2nd irrigation
Insecticide: None
Irrigation: Border, 14 irrigations (ca. 70 acre inches)
Harvest strategy: Cut at very early bloom to optimize quality.
Plot size: 2.5 feet by 10 feet
Replicates: Four

Plots were cut by hand using a Jari or Troy Bilt mower, raked and weighed immediately to prevent loss of moisture. Weights were converted to 0% moisture basis for reporting


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This is a part of publication AZ1059: "1998 Forage and Grain Agriculture Report," College of Agriculture, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, 85721. 
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