Seed World

Seedway Offers New Pest-Fighting, Yield-Boosting Alfalfa

New York-based seed company Seedway offers farmers in the northern U.S. three new alfalfa options this growing season ― all pioneered by Cornell University researchers as a way to combat devastating pests, increase yields and improve forage quality.
Developed by plant breeding and genetics professor Donald Viands along with senior research associate Julie Hansen and research support specialist Jamie Crawford, the new varieties were grown in Cornell greenhouses and tested for resistance in farm fields across the state.
The first variety, SW 9558SBR, provides resistance to the alfalfa snout beetle, which can cripple root systems. In trials, researchers found that this variety provides a half-ton increase in yield per acre.
A second alfalfa variety, SW 315LH, combats the potato leafhopper ― an insect Hansen calls “the most furious pest on alfalfa in all of North America.” The pest does not overwinter but arrives each year from the south carried by early spring thunderstorms.
The third variety, SW 215CR, is geared toward bolstering alfalfa cultivation. This “creeping rooted” variety helps alfalfa grow in adverse conditions because its root system swells and grows laterally.
Seedway offers the varieties with limited availability of SW 315LH and SW 215CR for 2015. Seeds are available throughout the northern United States and might be made available to Canadian farmers in the future.