New alfalfa varieties are saline and grazing tolerant

Farm Forum

BROOKINGS – South Dakota alfalfa producers have two new varieties to consider this growing season. SalinityMax Alfalfa is a salt tolerant variety developed to thrive in saline soils and PasturePlus Alfalfa is a grazing tolerant variety, developed to thrive in pasture mixes, says Justin Fruechte, Millborn Seeds forage and cover crop specialist.

“These varieties were developed in the Dakotas to solve two common challenges South Dakota alfalfa producers face,” Fruechte said. “They both carry disease, nematode and insect resistant packages as good as any conventional variety of alfalfa.”

Reclaiming the soil

Due to last summer’s drought, many low-lying areas in fields which may have experienced standing water in the past have now become saline and need to be reclaimed. An effective reclamation tool South Dakota farmers now have available to them is SalinityMax Alfalfa. SalinityMax Alfalfa was developed to tolerate saline soils and serves as a good forage option, explains Fruechte.

“SalinityMax will actually draw the salt out of the soil over time. Growers can use it to correct a soil. Once the soil is healthy, they can go in and plant the acres back to cash crops,” he said, adding that the variety also succeeds in high moisture soils that do not have salinity issues.

A Grazing Companion

Adapted to poorly drained soils, PasturePlus Alfalfa has some unique structural features which make it a good choice to add to a pasture mix. Unlike conventional alfalfa, which has a tap root, this variety was developed with a branch root system. This branch root system holds the plant securely during freeze and thaw cycles, making it more grazing resistant and winter hardy.

Its root system isn’t its only structural difference. PasturePlus Alfalfa is also a more palatable plant, explains Fruechte.

“This alfalfa variety is very compatible with grass because it doesn’t have as much lignin and structural carbohydrates, lending to higher nutritional quality,” Fruechte said.

To learn more about SalinityMax and PasturePlus alfalfa varieties Millborn Seeds has to offer, contact Fruechte at 888-498-7333 or Justinf@