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Book: Alfalfa Science and Technology
Published by: American Society of Agronomy

 

 

This chapter in ALFALFA SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

  1.  p. i-xxiv
    Agronomy Monograph 15.
    Alfalfa Science and Technology

    C.H. Hanson (ed.)

    ISBN: 978-0-89118-210-8

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doi:10.2134/agronmonogr15.frontmatter

Front Matter

    1. Research Agronomist, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Beltsville, Maryland

ALFALFA HARVESTING (Photo courtesy Waterman-Loomis Co.)

 

THE ALFALFA PLANT. (A) Plant showing an extensive root system and several young shoots growing from the crown; (B) flowering branch from subsequent growth; (C) three views of an enlarged flower; (D) seed pods, four seeds, and enlargement of single seed. (Drawings by Regina O. Hughes, Scientific Illustrator, Agricultural Research Service, USDA.)

 

General Foreword

Agronomy—An ASA Monograph Series

The appearance of this volume on alfalfa at this time is another indication that the ASA Monograph Series attempts to provide important information on subjects that are current and significant. Present-day and widespread discussions and activities aimed at preserving and improving our environment often emphasize the great need for widely cultivated crops that help to maintain the soil while providing abundant sustenance for animal and human food. Alfalfa is called “Queen of the Forages” because it does just that.

Like its fourteen predecessors in this series, Alfalfa Science and Technology is mainly the work of members of our society, although many non-members have made vital contributions to it and to almost every number in the series. Dr. A. G. Norman, a former president of ASA, was editor of the first six numbers that were published by the Academic Press of New York under the auspices of the society. The other nine numbers have been published by the society under the editorship of various distinguished members and through the well-established operations of successive ASA Monographs Committees and the Headquarters Office staff. A list of these important books may be found on page ii.

The American Society of Agronomy has many objectives and activities in common with the Crop Science Society of America and the Soil Science Society of America. They are usually referred to as associated societies and they support one another at every opportunity and in a myriad of ways. Members and officers of all three societies have made essential contributions to the ASA Monograph Series.

Alfalfa Science and Technology should be of great benefit to scientists and other workers who deal specifically with this crop and to many thousands of others who deal with forages and the production of feed and food for our growing animal and human populations. In spite of any restriction in content which might be deduced from the title, the subject of alfalfa is treated in a most comprehensive way including generous discussion of applied information pertaining to alfalfa improvement, management, and production. The American Society of Agronomy as an educational organization offers this book to the public in the interest of human welfare and in the hope that through the fundamental and applied material presented it will help to solve many of the environmental and food problems which face the peoples of the world today.

Madison, Wisconsin

June 1972

Matthias Stelly

Editor-in-chief

ASA Publications

Foreword

Forage as a feed resource has a vast unexplored potential. Among the forage crops, alfalfa is one which has been held in high esteem by many civilizations down through the passage of time. It has played an important role in the development of the United States. Its use radiated out from Minnesota in the northern part of the country and from West to East via initial introduction through California. Much is known about the crop, yet we know so little. This monograph is a salute to a crop which has contributed substantially to our successful agriculture. It reflects the breadth and depth of expertise which exists in the cultivation and improvement of the crop. At the same time, it challenges its readers to unlock the secrets yet untapped which can make possible even greater contributions by this great crop to the welfare of mankind.

The American Society of Agronomy is indebted to the editor and the many authors who have given so willingly of their time and talent so that this compendium on alfalfa might be published. This monograph will add another to the distinguished list already published by the Society.

I wish to express my appreciation on behalf of the Society to the authors, the editor, and the members of the monograph committee.

Corvallis, Oregon

April 1972

J. RITCHIE COWAN, President

American Society of Agronomy

Preface

Alfalfa, a mainstay of today's agriculture, is the only forage known to have been cultivated before the era of recorded history. From its probable homeland in Iran, alfalfa came to Greece with the Persian legions under Darius. The invaders sowed alfalfa to feed their chariot horses and fatten their cattle. Soldiers boiled the succulent tops for greens. In time, alfalfa spread to Rome, and eventually throughout Europe, South America, and Mexico.

Early colonists in the USA subjected alfalfa to the inhospitable acid soils and humid climate of the Atlantic seaboard. It took the 1849 California gold rush to firmly establish the crop in this country. It flourished in California and many found that growing alfalfa paid better than digging gold. However, shaping alfalfa into a national crop required years of work by scientists. They bred varieties resistant to diseases and insect pests, developed cultural practices that produced more forage and seed, and devised new methods for harvesting, preserving, and feeding the forage;

Alfalfa has become the “Queen of the Forages.” But, even as other reigning queens, alfalfa has problems which keep it from reaching its full potential. Periodic review and reevaluation of research information are needed to increase the returns from past inputs of research, and to incorporate new findings into practice as soon as their worth has been demonstrated. This is especially appropriate for a subject as broad as alfalfa. The literature is voluminous and scattered. Many questions remain unanswered and new ones rise daily. All of these needs, and more, were evident when the decision was made to bring together and reevaluate all significant information on alfalfa for this monograph.

Alfalfa Science and Technology represents the specialties of more than 70 authors who are experts in alfalfa improvement. The title reflects the dual emphasis on basic information (Chapters 1–17) and practical application (Chapters 18–33).

The first chapter opens with a discussion of world distribution and historical developments. The next 16 chapters deal with crop morphology, anatomy, physiology, ecology, nitrogen fixation, chemical composition, genetics, and breeding, with an extensive discussion of the taxonomy and cytogenetics of Medicago. Chapters 18 through 33 deal primarily with growing, harvesting, and feeding, and were written with the teacher, crop specialist, and grower in mind. These chapters include discussions of alfalfa varieties, seeding, fertilization, irrigation, weed control, identification and control of diseases and insects, harvesting, storage, feeding, pasturing, and seed production. The final chapters consider alfalfa from an international viewpoint, with discussions of research centers, outlook, and potential. The bibliographies include more than 3,300 literature citations.

For the most part, the English system of weights and measures was used in applied chapters and the metric system in others. (See page xxiii for a conversion table.) Likewise, the terms “variety” and “cultivar” were used interchangeably in the book, but one or the other was used consistently within each chapter.

For wholehearted support, I extend my sincere appreciation to the authors, the editorial committee, and more than 80 persons who assisted with chapter reviews. I especially wish to express my gratitude to Mrs. Effie Legg, whose dedicated assistance in editing, proofing, and handling of manuscripts went far beyond the call of her secretarial duties with the Beltsville alfalfa project. Appreciation also is expressed to the Plant Science Research Division, ARS, USDA, for permission and support given me to undertake the assignment of editor.

I join the authors of Chapter 34 in thanking the following persons from other countries for assembling information in their respective countries: Europe—D. Wolffhardt, Austria; G. Van Bogaert, Belgium; A. Christov, Bulgaria; J. Uhliar, A. Dobiaš, and J. Dančik, Czechoslovakia; H. M. Nielsen, Denmark; K. Multamäki, Finland; P. Guy, France; R. Steuckardt and I. Focke, Germany-East;U. Simon, Germany-West; W. F. Raymond, D. Aldrich, W. E. Davies, H. H. Rogers, P. S. Nutman, and C. L. Skidmore, Great Britain; E. L. Stylopoulos, Greece; A. Janossy, Hungary; A. Panella and G. Haussman, Italy; J. Dijkstra, Netherlands; R. Vestad and S. Skaare, Norway; Anna Jelinowska, Poland; P. Varga, Romania; C. Fernandex-Quintanilla, Spain; G. Julén and P. Lundin, Sweden; S. Badoux, Switzerland; D. Bošnjak, Yugoslavia. Asia—K. P. S. Chauhan, India; Y. Maki, Japan; N. Ahmed, Pakistan; A. L. Eraq, Turkey.

Finally, compliments and appreciation are due Matthias Stelly, H. L. Hamilton, and other members of the ASA headquarters staff for their efficient services.

The principal change in the 1975 edition consists of corrections of any errors in the first edition. Since the first edition was printed, the reader should keep in mind that the prominence of forages, especially legumes, has greatly increased. World demand and high prices for feed grains are necessitating shifts toward greater use of high quality forages to reduce costs of livestock feeds. Also a major increase in the cost of nitrogen fertilizer, which is required in large quantities for grass production, and the higher cost of supplemental protein used in livestock rations pinpoint the importance of alfalfa and other legumes. Part of the long-term solution to the present dilemma of high feed costs for ruminant animals and projected shortages of grain for human consumption is greater dependence on nutrients from high quality forage for livestock production.

Beltsville, Maryland

December 1974

Clarence H. Hanson

Editor

Contributors

B. A. App, Assistant Chief, Grain and Forage Insects Research Branch, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, Maryland 20705 (Retired)

Lloyd E. Arnold, Partner-Manager, Arnold-Thomas Seed Service, Fresno, California 93723

J. D. Axtell, Associate Professor of Plant Genetics, Department of Agronomy, Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana 47907

H. Baenziger, Research Scientist, Research Station, Canada Department of Agriculture, Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, Ontario, KIA OC6

D. K. Barnes, Research Geneticist, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101

R. F. Barnes, Research Agronomist, U. S. Regional Pasture Research Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802

w. M. Beeson, Professor of Animal Nutrition, Department of Animal Sciences, Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana 47907

E. M. Bickoff, Research Chemist, Western Regional Research Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Berkeley, California 94710

Sven Bingefors, Plant Breeder, Swedish Seed Association, Uppsala, Sweden

E. T. Bingham, Associate Professor, Alfalfa Breeding, Department of Agronomy, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706

R. E. Blaser, University Professor of Agronomy, Department of Agronomy, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061

G. E. Bohart, Research Entomologist, Crops Research Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Logan, Utah 84321

J. L. Bolton, Research Coordinator, Forage Crops, Research Branch, Canada Department of Agriculture, Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, Ontario, KIA OC6 (Retired)

R. H. Brown, Professor of Agronomy, Department of Agronomy, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30601

R. J. Bula, Research Agronomist, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Purdue Agricultural Experiment Station, Lafayette, Indiana 47907

J. C. Burton, Director of Research, The Nitragin Company, Inc., Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53209

T. H. Busbice, Research Geneticist, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station, Raleigh, North Carolina 27607

G. E. Carlson, Research Agronomist, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, Maryland 20705

H. L. Carnahan, Director of Plant Breeding, California Co-operative Rice Research Foundation, Inc., Biggs, California 95917

Douglas S. Chamblee, Professor of Forage Ecology, Department of Crop Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27607

William M. Clement, Jr., Associate Professor, Department of General Biology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee 37203

L. V. Crowder, Professor of Plant Breeding and International Agriculture, Department of Plant Breeding and Biometry, Cornell University, Ithaca, Kew York 14850

R. L. Davis, Associate Director, Division of Sponsored Programs, Purdue Research Foundation, Lafayette, Indiana 47907

W. H. Davis, Senior Research Scientist, L. Teweles Seed Company, Clinton, Wisconsin 53525

F. C. Elliott, Professor of Crop Science, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48823

L. R. Faulkner, Professor and Plant Pathologist, Department of Plant Pathology, Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center Washington State University, Prosser, Washington 99350

F. I. Frosheiser, Research Plant Pathologist, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101

C. B. Gillies, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Present address: Institute of Genetics, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen K, Denmark

B. P. Goplen, Research Scientist, Research Station, Canada Department of Agriculture, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

C. H. Gordon, Research Dairy Husbandman, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, Maryland 20705

J. H. Graham, Research Plant Pathologist, Agricultural Research Servo ice, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, Mary land 20705

Alvin R. Grove, Jr., Professor of Botany, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802

C. R. Gunn, Research Plant Taxonomist, Agricultural Research Servo ice, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, Mary land 20705

A. A. Hanson, Agricultural Administrator, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, Mary land 20705

C. H. Hanson, Research Agronomist, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, Maryland 20705

D. H. Heinrichs, Research Agronomist, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, Maryland 20705

R. R. Hill, Jr., Research Agronomist, U. S. Regional Pasture Research Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802

O. J. Hunt, Research Agronomist, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Nevada Agricultural Experiment Station, Reno, Nevada 89507

J. A. Jackobs, Professor of Crop Production, Department of Agronomy, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois 61801

I. J. Johnson, Research Director, Cal/West Seeds, Woodland, California 95695

G. A. Jung, Research Agronomist, U. S. Regional Pasture Research Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802

w. R. Kehr, Research Agronomist, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Nebraska Agricultural Experiment Station, Lincoln, Nebraska 68503

E. C. Klostermeyer, Entomologist, Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center, Washington State University, Prosser, Washington 99350

George O. Kohler, Chief, Field Crops Laboratory, Western Regional Research Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Berkeley, California 94710

K. W. Kreitlow, Research Plant Pathologist, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, Maryland 20705 (Deceased)

R. H. M. Langer, Professor of Plant Science, Lincoln College, Canterbury, New Zealand

K. L. Larson, Professor of Agronomy, Department of Agronomy, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65201

K. Lesins, Professor of Agronomy, Department of Agronomy, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65201

C. C. Lowe, Professor of Plant Breeding, Department of Plant Breeding and Biometry, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14850

G. R. Manglitz, Research Entomologist, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Nebraska Agricultural Experiment Station, Lincoln, Nebraska 68503

V. L. Marble, Extension Agronomist, Agricultural Extension Service, University of California, Davis, California 95616

G. C. Marten, Research Agronomist, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101

M. A. Massengale, Head, Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721

J. K. Matsushima, Professor of Animal Nutrition, Animal Science Department, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80521

H. F. Miller. Jr., Research Engineer, Product Planning Department, Deere … Company, Moline, Illinois 61265

C. J. Overdahl, Extension Specialist and Professor, Soil Science Department, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101

R. N. Peaden, Research Agronomist, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Nevada Agricultural Experiment Station, Reno, Nevada 89507

R. B. Pearce, Associate Professor of Crop Physiology, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50010

M. W. Pedersen, Research Agronomist, Crops Research Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Logan, Utah 84321

Elroy J. Peters, Research Agronomist, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station, Columbia, Missouri 65201

R. A. Peters, Professor of Crop Ecology, Department of Plant Science, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut 06268

H. B. Peterson, Professor of Irrigation, Department of Agriculture and Irrigation Engineering, Utah State University, Logan, Utah 84321

c. L. Rhykerd, Professor of Agronomy, Department of Agronomy, Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana 47907

M. D. Rumbaugh, Professor of Plant Science, Department of Plant Science, South Dakota State University, Brookings, South Dakota 57006

M. H. Schonhorst, Professor of Alfalfa Breeding, Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721

Dale Smith, Professor of Agronomy, Department of Agronomy, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706

E. L. Sorensen, Research Agronomist, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station, Manhattan, Kansas 66502

E. H. Stanford, Professor of Agronomy, Department of Agronomy and Range Science, University of California, Davis, California 95616

M. B. Tesar, Professor, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48823

R. W. Van Keuren, Professor of Agronomy, Department of Agronomy, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Wooster, Ohio 44691

W. F. Wedin, Professor of Pasture Management, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50010

R. D. Wilcoxson, Professor of Diseases of Forage and Cereal Crops, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101

M. C. Wilson, Professor of Entomology in charge of Forage Insect Research, Department of Entomology, Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana 47907

D. D. Wolf, Associate Professor of Crop Management, Department of Agronomy, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061

 

Footnotes


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