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Thumbnail Filmstrip of Alfalfa - Ranger Images
Alfalfa is a cool-season perennial flowering legume. It can grow up to 36 inches high. Alfalfa is an introduced plant to North America, originating in Asia, and is typically grown as a food source for livestock and wildlife.
One way to categorize alfalfa is by its fall dormancy rating. The fall dormancy rating corelates to how long the alfalfa stays dormant in the fall/winter season with low numbers representing alfalfas that are very dormant in the fall/winter and higher numbers representing alfalfas that are less or non-dormant in the fall and winter. The higher the dormancy number the earlier the alfalfa will green up. Generally alfalfas in the northern parts of the United States need lower fall dormancy numbers. While important to understand, variety selection is usually more important than fall dormancy ratings.
Fall planting is recommended with alfalfa. Spring planting is less desirable as spring plantings require more water, the plants have less developed root systems, and there is usually more weed and insect pressure.
Alfalfa is sensitive to cotton root rot. Once exposed, root rot will usually destroy an alfalfa stand in one to two years. This is the main reason that alfalfa may not be economically feasible as a crop in many parts of Texas.
Ranger is a multiple-strain variety of alfalfa developed by the Nebraska Agricultural Experiment Station and USDA. It was released in 1942 and has genetics closely related to other older alfalfa lines such as Ladak. It generally has more disease resistance than Ladak though may not be quite as cold tolerant. Ranger typically does better in less humid areas.
Common Name: Alfalfa
Height: 12" - 36"
Bloom Color: Purple
Bloom Period: May - September
PH Range: 6.0 - 8.0
Annual Rainfall/Irrigation: 18" - 36"
Light Requirement: 6 - 8+
Rate Per Acre: 15 - 20
Planting Dates: 8/20 - 3/15
Seeds Per Pound: 227,000
Bushel Weight: 60
Planting Depth: 1/4" - 1/2"