16 Facts About Alfalfa


Alfalfa, called lucerne, is a perennial flowering plant in the legume family Fabaceae.

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Alfalfa seems to have originated in south-central Asia, and was first cultivated in ancient Iran.

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Alfalfa seeds were imported to California from Chile in the 1850s.

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Alfalfa is a perennial forage legume which normally lives four to eight years, but can live more than 20 years, depending on variety and climate.

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Alfalfa is a small-seeded crop, and has a slowly growing seedling, but after several months of establishment, forms a tough "crown" at the top of the root system.

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Alfalfa is widely grown throughout the world as forage for cattle, and is most often harvested as hay, but can be made into silage, grazed, or fed as greenchop.

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Alfalfa usually has the highest feeding value of all common hay crops.

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Alfalfa hay is a widely used protein and fiber source for meat rabbits.

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Alfalfa can be sown in spring or fall, and does best on well-drained soils with a neutral pH of 6.

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Alfalfa requires sustained levels of potassium and phosphorus to grow well.

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Alfalfa is considered an insectary, a place where insects are reared, and has been proposed as helpful to other crops, such as cotton, if the two are interplanted, because the alfalfa harbours predatory and parasitic insects that would protect the other crop.

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Alfalfa is susceptible to root rots, including Phytophthora, Rhizoctonia, and Texas root rot.

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Alfalfa is susceptible to downy mildew caused by the oomycete species Peronospora aestivalis.

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Alfalfa is predominantly grown in the northern and western United States; it can be grown in the southeastern United States, but leaf and root diseases, poor soils, and a lack of well-adapted varieties are often limitations.

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Alfalfa pollination is somewhat problematic because western honey bees, the most commonly used pollinator, are less than ideal for this purpose; the pollen-carrying keel of the alfalfa flower trips and strikes pollinating bees on the head, which helps transfer the pollen to the foraging bee.

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Alfalfa, like other leguminous crops, is a known source of phytoestrogens, including spinasterol, coumestrol, and coumestan.

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