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New Cornell-designed bug-resistant and pasture alfalfas available

Northern alfalfa varieties developed at Cornell feature snout beetle resistance, leaf hopper resistance and creeping root trait for pastures.

March 15, 2015

2 Min Read

Northeast dairy and livestock producers have three new alfalfa options commercially available for this year, thanks to research and development at Cornell University. All three are available through Seedway.

• SW 9558SBR provides alfalfa snout beetle resistance. The beetles, initially found in northern New York, have been spreading. Their feeding can cripple root systems, notes Donald Viands, plant breeder at Cornell's School of Integrative Plant Science.

The beetles burrow in hay bales for easy transport, and populations grow rapidly. Research trials with Entomologists Elson Shields and Tony Testa have found that the variety provides a half-ton yield increase per acre. 


• SW 315LH exhibits potato leafhopper resistance, an insect that Cornell Senior Research Assistant Julie Hansen calls "the most furious pest on alfalfa in all of North America." Hansen says SW 315LH is the first potato leafhopper-resistant variety of alfalfa that's well-adapted for New York.

• SW 215CR is a creeping rooted variety initially developed by the late Royse Murphy, professor emeritus of plant breeding. The trait helps alfalfa grow in adverse conditions because its root system swells and grows laterally.

Creeping rooted isn't really a new trait, but it has been successfully adapted to New York and surrounding states to improve pasture longevity, explains Viands.

"Higher forage yield and quality, combined with multiple disease and insect resistances, enable forage to be produced more economically, thus enhancing economic vitality of livestock operations."

Supplies of SW 315LH and SW 215CR will be limited for this spring. These varieties have been ongoing, collaborative projects for years and are funded primarily by Federal Hatch Funds through the Cornell University Agriculture Experiment Station, the Northern New York Agriculture Development Program and New York Farm Viability Institute.

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