Registration of New Alfalfa-1086 and Alfalfa-ML-99 (Medicago sativa L.) Varieties
Background: Ethiopia has the highest livestock population in Africa. However, the productivity of livestock and the role it plays in the economy of the country is very low. This is mainly because of the inadequate availability of quality feed. Enhancing the production of alfalfa could contribute to overcome the shortage of feed in the country and enhance the productivity of all classes of livestock in the country.
Objective: To evaluate performances of high-yielding and disease-tolerant alfalfa varieties.
Materials and Methods: Six introduced alfalfa varieties were tested against a standard check (DZF-552) and an old introduction of alfalfa (hairy Peruvian) varieties for biomass yield, quality attributes, disease and pest reactions, and other agronomic traits at Holetta, Kulumsa, Debrezeit, Melkassa, Werer, and Pawe Agricultural Research Centers during the 2013 and 2014 cropping seasons. Three superior alfalfa varieties (alfalfa-1086, alfalfa-ML-99 and alfalfa-998) were selected from multi-location evaluation trials and the candidate varieties with recently released alfalfa variety (DZF-552) were evaluated under verification trial at Kulumsa, Melkassa, Werer, and Wondo-genet Agricultural Research Centers in 2015.
Results: Alfalfa-1086, alfalfa-998, and alfalfa-ML-99 had dry matter (DM) yield advantages of 30, 27, and 23% over hairy Peruvian variety, respectively. Alfalfa-1086, alfalfa-ML-99 and alfalfa-998 also had crude protein (CP) yield advantages of 109, 89, and 73% over the hairy Peruvian variety, respectively. More importantly, alfalfa-1086, alfalfa-ML-99, and alfalfa-998 varieties had CP yield advantages of 55, 41, and 28%, respectively, over the recently released (DZF-552) check variety. The in vitro dry matter digestibility (IVDMD) yield advantages were 66% and 23% for alfalfa-1086; 58 and 17% for alfalfa-ML-99 and 57 and 16% for alfalfa-998 over the hairy Peruvian and recently released standard check variety, respectively. The results revealed that the candidate varieties had better ash, CP, and IVDMD but lower fiber contents when compared to the check varieties.
Conclusions: The released varieties had advantages of CP and IVDMD yields over hairy Peruvian and standard check varieties. Moreover, the released varieties had advantages of leaf to stem ratio, CP content, and IVDMD over the two checks. Due to the better nutritional quality and yields of CP and IVDMD, the released varieties are very important to improve the livestock production and productivity of smallholder farmers. Therefore, the two alfalfa varieties (alfalfa-1086 and alfalfa-ML-99) were approved for cultivation in the low to high altitude areas of Ethiopia due to their better yield performance, quality attributes, disease and pest reactions, and other agronomic traits.