Is Cheap Seed Really That Cheap?

Alfalfa seed prices range from $150/bag to $350/bag for conventional seed and up to $600/bag for genetically enhanced seed. Is the higher priced seed worth the cost? Absolutely!

The figure shows the yield advantage by age of stand for the highest yielding variety compared to a low yielding variety from University of Wisconsin alfalfa variety trials over the last 30 years. The high yielding variety in the established stands (years 2 to 4) had an average yield advantage was about 2.3 tons alfalfa per year. Depending on hay value of $150 to $200/ton this additional value of premium seed is $345.00 to $460.00/acre per year!

Note that even in the seeding year of a spring seeding the average advantage of premium seed was 1.31 t/a. The additional value of hay from premium seed was $196 to $262 for the seeding year. Thus, premium seed is worthwhile even if a short stand life occurs, either expectedly or unexpectedly.
Data collected at University of Wisconsin sites.

Genetically enhanced traits are also worth the extra seed cost. Roundup ready alfalfa allows for less expensive weed control. It also allows for good weed control over a broader range of weather conditions. This can be particularly useful in a spring seeding when cool weather may slow alfalfa growth but not weed growth, so the weeds grow too large for weed control before alfalfa is large enough for conventional herbicides. Roundup is also good for taking winter annuals out of alfalfa stands.

The HarvXtra trait allows for higher quality alfalfa when harvest is delayed. This can aid when weather is not cooperating or can allow longer intervals between cuttings, using the full growing season to increase yield and possibly reducing the number of cuttings in some regions. The longer cutting interval will also increase winter survival.

Why does premium seed yield more? The reasons are threefold:

  1. Better genetics for yield.

  2. Better resistance to diseases and insects. The older, less expensive varieties tend not to have resistance to the newest races of diseases.

  3. Better winter survival.

All of the reasons increase profitability when using premium seed.

Privacy and Terms

For the 2020 growing seasons, growers must direct any product produced from HarvXtra® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology seed or crops (including hay and hay products) only to US domestic use. It is a violation of national and international law to move material containing biotech traits across boundaries into nations where import is not permitted. Growers should talk to their product purchaser to confirm their buying position for this product.

Due to factors outside of Forage Genetics International’s (FGI) control, such as weather, crop production patterns, and other factors, results to be obtained, including but not limited to yields or financial performance, cannot be predicted or guaranteed by FGI. Results are based upon FGI controlled tests and field trials and public trials. Results may vary.

ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Roundup Ready® crops contain genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides. Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. Roundup Ready® and Roundup® are trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC, used under license by Forage Genetics International, LLC. HarvXtra® is a registered trademark of Forage Genetics International, LLC. HarvXtra® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology is enabled with Technology from The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc.