Submitted to: Central Alfalfa Improvement Conference
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: July 17, 1997
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Alfalfa was chosen as the dedicated feed stock resource for a project jointly funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Electric Power Research Institute, and a consortium including the University of Minnesota, USDA- ARS, Westinghouse Electric Company, and the Minnesota Valley Alfalfa Producers (MNVAP). A 75 MW power station at Granite Falls, MN, will require e600,000 tons of alfalfa hay annually. Alfalfa will be managed under a two harvest schedule to maximize stem yield, enhance wildlife habitat, and minimize production costs. The hay will be fractionated into stem material for conversion to electricity and leaf meal for sale as a livestock protein supplement. An alfalfa biomass variety adapted to the upper Midwest would have the following traits: winter hardiness, resistance to major pathogens, resistance to foliar disease complexes, many thick, tall, solid, non- lodging stems with high lignin content, late flowering, and high quality leaves retained through harvest. Currently no alfalfa varieties meet these criteria. Experimental alfalfa sources are currently being evaluated and selected for large, thick, solid non-lodging stems, time of flowering, percentage of leaves at harvest, and incidence of foliar disease. Experimental populations differed in lodging resistance. Sources that were at least 75% Flemish did not lodge at late flower to green pod stages of maturity. Populations and strain crosses that were 50% Flemish were not lodged at late bud to early flower but were lodged by full flower. Experimental alfalfa biomass germplasms have been screened for root and crown disease resistance. Most of these sources appear to be highly susceptible to Phytophthora root rot. Cycles of selection for disease resistance will be necessary to produce adapted biomass alfalfa.