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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Computer Program Helps Alfalfa Growers Pick the Perfect Variety

LAS CRUCES -- With more than 500 varieties to choose from -- and more available every year -- alfalfa growers can quickly become overwhelmed. An updated version of ALFALFA CATALOG, a computer program developed at New Mexico State University, can help growers pick varieties best suited for their environmental conditions.

"Alfalfa is unlike a number of other crops in that there's a wide range of variability in use," said John Henning, an alfalfa breeder with NMSU's Agricultural Experiment Station. "For example, alfalfa is grown in every state including Alaska and Hawaii."

Also, different alfalfa types include resistance to different insects and diseases, he said. "So, growers are faced every year with this massive number of varieties from which to pick," Henning added.

To help growers search for the variety with the right combination of characteristics for their growing conditions, Henning and Shaun Townsend, a graduate student, developed ALFALFA CATALOG two years ago. "With this program, people can actually search for varieties that grow in very cold regions, or varieties that grow in very warm regions, or varieties that grow in a certain region plus have resistance, for example, to aphids and Phytophthera," Henning said.

The program allows users to search for as many as five traits at a time.

Henning and Townsend recently updated the easy-to-use program, which includes cultivars and germplasms that have been released through early 1995. To date, the database includes more than 1,150 cultivars, breeding lines and germplasm entries.

"We've had more than 150 requests from around the world, not just New Mexico, for this program," Henning said. "It's becoming an extremely important program for Extension agents, breeders and seedsmen."

For more information or to order the $10 program, please contact Henning at (505) 646-1721.