Memoir Series #8: Alfalfa in New Mexico and the New Mexico Alfalfa Breeding Program
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Memoir Series #8: Alfalfa in New Mexico and the New Mexico Alfalfa Breeding Program

Bill Melton, Professor of Agronomy

College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences New Mexico State University

Reprinted for electronic distribution July 1999
© Regents of New Mexico State University, 1988



Contents

Introduction
Alfalfa Seed Production
Early research by the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts
Initiation of the New Mexico alfalfa breeding programs
As a training program
Early alfalfa publications at NM A & MA
Other literature
 


Alfalfa in New Mexico and The New Mexico Alfalfa Breeding Program

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) was introduced into Mexico by the Spanish in the middle 1500s. Subsequent migrations established alfalfa in Chile, Peru, Uraguay and Argentina many years before the establishment of alfalfa in North America (16, 23). Most scientific accounts of the introduction of alfalfa into North America credit seedstocks introduced into. California from Chile by trade associated with the Gold Rush, in about 1851(23). However, the introduction of alfalfa into New Mexico predates the California introduction by almost 250 years.

Alfalfa, along with various types of livestock and other crops, was brought from Mexico into New Mexico by the colonizer Juan de O?ate in about 1598 (24). Alfalfa was originally grown along waterways where it could be irrigated, and was used for livestock feed. Agricultural statistics showed that by 1920 there were 128,000 acres of alfalfa in New Mexico (figure 1). Acreage then declined to 80,000 in 1935 and, thereafter, increased to a maximum of 270,000 acres in 1981. Total production ranged from a low of approximately 200,000 tons in 1935 to a high of 1.33 million tons in 1984 (figure 2). Average yield steadily increased from a low of 2.3 tons per acre in 1920 to a high of 5.2 tons per acre in 1985 (figure 3). Early hay prices ranged from $9 to $12 per ton (figure 4).

One early experiment station bulletin in 1911, described alfalfa as a good feedstuff for fattening lambs if prices were about $8.50 per ton (6). Prices during World War II were $20 to $30 per ton.

In 1965, hay prices started to rise dramatically and reached a high average price of $99 per ton in 1984. The total value of alfalfa to New Mexico economy was $4.2 million in 1910 and declined to $2.5 million in 1935. By 1967, alfalfa had become the most important cash crop in New Mexico, and accelerated in value to a peak of nearly $150 million in 1984 (figure 5)

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Figure 1. Acreage trends of alfalfa harvested for hay production in New Mexico, 1920 to 1986 (17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22).
*Acreage peaked in 1981 at 270,000 acres.
Figure 2. Total alfalfa hay production in New Mexico, 1920 to 1986 (17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22).
*Production peaked in 1984 whith 1,326,000 tons produced.
Figure 3. Alfalfa hay yields on an acre basis in New Mexico, 1920 to 1986 (17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22)
 
Figure 4. Average price per ton of alfalfa hay in New Mexico, 1910 to 1986 (17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22).
*Average price peaked in 1984 with an average price of $99 per ton.
Figure 5. Total value of alfalfa hay produced in New Mexico, 1910 to 1986 (17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22).
* Total value of New MExico hay peaked in 1984 with a value of $147,312,000.

Alfalfa Seed Production

In the early years, most alfalfa seed used in New Mexico was produced in the state. In 1930, alfalfa seed was produced on nearly 3,000 acres with a yield of 240 pounds per acre and a cash value of $104,000 (table 1). Yield and acreage for seed production varied widely in succeeding years. The alfalfa seed industry in New Mexico peaked in the 1940s and 1950s with more than 10,000 acres devoted to seed production and cash returns of more than $500,000. As emphasis was placed on hay production, the seed industry declined and statistics on seed production were dropped in 1970.


 Top table 1. alfalfa seed production in new mexico, 1930 to 1970*
 
 
 
 
Value 
Year 
Acres1 
Yield
Production
Per cwt.3 
Total4 
 
1000 
lbs/A 
1000 lbs. 
dollars 
$1000 
1930 
2.8 
240 
672 
15.50 
104 
1935 
1.6 
175 
280 
10.30 
29 
1940 
8.1 
100 
810 
13.00 
105 
1945 
11.5 
140 
1600 
34.00 
544 
1950 
9.0 
220 
2000 
30.30 
606 
1955 
5.5 
320 
1760 
21.50 
378 
1960 
3.0 
235 
705 
32.90 
232 
1965 
5.0 
195 
975 
31.00 
302 
1970 
2.6 
200 
520 
49.00 
255 
*Seed production dropped from New Mexico Agricultural Statistics in 1972
1Maximum acreage for seed production was in 1947 with 15,000 acres.
2Maximum average seed yield was obtained 1956 with 365 lbs/A. - maximum production was also in 1956 with 2,555,000 lbs. seed produced. 3Lowest price obtained for alfalfa seed was $6.60 per cwt. in 1932 and highest price was $52.00 per cwt. in 1969.
4Total value of seed production peaked in 1946 with $792,000.
 

Early Research by the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts

The Agricultural Experiment Station was established by a congressional act in 1887. The New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Station received its first federal appropriation of $10,000 in 1889. The first research bulletin concerned with alfalfa was published in 1892 (1). This bulletin described the introduction of 'Spanish' alfalfa into New Mexico, and subsequent types of 'Chilean' or 'California' clover into New Mexico. Problems with bloat, cultural requirements, irrigation and harvesting practices were discussed. The first yield test produced three harvests of one-half ton per acre each. Other early publications dealt with irrigation practices or nutritive value of alfalfa hay (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). Vernon (5) described alfalfa as a dryland crop in 1907 and concluded that alfalfa was difficult to establish under dryland conditions, but once established was a profitable crop because of low labor requirements.

In 1896, E. 0. Wooton (3) stated the knowledge of alfalfa was "entirely too well known to describe in a short space." The first bulletin describing alfalfa fertilization practices was published in 1923 by C. E. Craig and W. T. Conway (11). The first bulletin devoted entirely to alfalfa (Bull. 139) was published in 1923 by G. R. Quesenberry (12). Quesenberry described alfalfa as a crop of increasing importance in New Mexico, valued as a soil builder in crop rotations, and resulting in hay of unequaled quality. Quesenberry described cultural requirements, irrigation practices and harvest management. Most important to plant improvement, he described the first variety work in New Mexico. The highest yielding entry was a 'Peruvian' obtained from the USDA, with other Peruvian types obtained from Arizona, California and Roswell, NM, yielding considerably less. 'Grimm' was the second highest yielding type, with 'Native' and 'Kansas' producing acceptable yields. 'Turkistan' was considered inferior because of low yields and poor seed production.

A second alfalfa variety test bulletin was published in 1926 by J. C. Overpeck and W. T. Conway (13). They evaluated 'Hairy Peruvian', 'Common', Grimm and Turkistan, and concluded that Hairy Peruvian was the highest yielder and maintained its yield level better than the other varieties. Performance at 10 locations around the state was also reported with recognition of winter hardiness of Grimm and winter damage to Hairy Peruvian. Grimm and 'Cossack' were the best performing varieties in the northern part of the state with Common and Hairy Peruvian performing well in the southern part.


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Initiation of the New Mexico Alfalfa Breeding Programs

Most plant breeding programs start with evaluation of available germplasm. According to Quesenberry (12), this type of research began at in the New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Station in 1918 with the evaluation and description of accessions of Turkistan, Grimm, Hairy Peruvian, Peruvian, Kansas, and Native (from the Mesilla Valley of New Mexico). Native was described by Quesenberry as being primarily Spanish, but mixed with types from Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, and California. Modern classifications would place Native in the Chilean genetic diversity group, which was the primary germplasm constituent to California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Kansas Common alfalfa (16). The name Common was used by Overpeck and Conway (13) in 1926 to describe a local type from the Mesilla Valley.

Staten et al. (14) in 1945, evaluated several additional varieties including NM Common, Cimarron Hardy Common, Kansas Common, Ladak, Hardigan, Utah Common, Dakota Common, French, Argentine, Ecuador, Arizona, Chilean, Cossack and Hardistan. Hairy Peruvian was generally the highest yielding variety in the Las Cruces area. The New Mexico Common used in this test was different from the Native variety used by Quesenberry, or the Common used by Overpeck and Conway, in that it was obtained from the Pecos Valley area of New Mexico. This source was probably the original source of NM Common, which was a certified variety from the 1930s until the middle 1960s. The Cimarron Hardy Common was another Common native to the Cimarron Valley area in northeastern New Mexico. Cimarron Hardy Common is more winter hardy than New Mexico Common, and contains some variegated flower types (15).

In the 1945 report, Staten et al. (14) recognized the importance( of bacterial wilt and dormancy in determining performance and adaptation. In 1953, Staten et al. (15) reported on performance of the varieties African, Atlantic, Buffalo, Caliverde, DuPuits, Indian, Ladak, Narragansett, Nemastan, Nomad, Rhizoma, Oklahoma Common, Orestan, Pilca Butta, Ranger, Sevelra, Talent and Williamsburg as well as New Mexico Common and Cimar-ron Hardy Common. Cimarron Hardy Common was also known as Dry Cimarron or Cimarron Common Hardy. In this report, Staten et al. (15) noted the importance of bacterial wilt, Fusarium wilt caused by Fusarium solani, stand decline because of excessive water (probably now known as Phytophthora root rot), scald, alfalfa aphids (probably pea aphid) and stem nematodes.

Mr. Glen Staten started the modern era of alfalfa breeding in New Mexico sometime in the early 1940s. It can be assumed that all of the previously mentioned varieties contributed germplasm to this program. Cooperation in the USDA Uniform Alfalfa Nursery tests also began in 1940 (14).

The first test consisted of seven commercial varieties (Hardistan, Orestan, Turkistan,. Kansas Common, Grimm, Meeker Baltic, Viking), New Mexico Common and 49 strains from Virginia, New Jersey, Michigan, Arizona, Nebraska, Kansas, Wisconsin and New Mexico. NM A-1 34 and Neb. A-1 14, were outstanding for yield while 11 strains, [NM (1), Virginia (1), Kansas (1), Nebraska (7), Michigan (1)], were considered outstanding for persistency. It should be noted that this test included the experimental designa-tions that later became the varieties Ranger, Buffalo and Atlantic. Arizona Common, Kansas Common, Ladak, Dakota Common, and Baltic were later added as check varieties to these uniform nursery tests.

The original breeding program was organized as what is now known as genotypic recurrent selection in which individual genotypes are evaluated through a progeny test. The first entries in the pedigree book (continued to the present) consisted of 122 plant selections made in 1945 from the Uniform Alfalfa Nursery test. Origins of these original selections were New Mexico Common (75) and strains from Virginia (4), New Jersey (2), Michigan (1), Nebraska (26), Hardistan (7), Orestan (10), Kansas (20), Kansas (20), Turkistan (8), and Atlantic (3).

Based on these origins, it would appear reasonable that most of the original germplasm in this program can be traced primarily to New Mexico Common (68%), material similar to Ranger (14%), material similar to Buffalo (8%) and a small amount similar to Turkistan, Atlantic and Williamsburg.

Selections in the third set (1947) were from progeny tests of the previously mentioned selections, which were inoculated with bacterial wilt and subjected to aphid infestations. Additions to the source nursery were also obtained from Kansas and described as self-sterile, wilt-resistant plants from Buffalo, and from selections made from production fields around New Mexico. The selection sequence was based on vigor, color and seed set of parent plants, progeny tests for bacterial wilt and aphid resistance, with selected individual progeny then evaluated in forage yield trials. Selections from the progeny tests were placed into the source nursery for con-tinuation of selection cycles. Pedigrees were maintained on all plants. This process has remained in effect for more than 40 years, with changes primarily in the expansion of selection objectives.

The first improved variety developed and released from the pro-gram was NM 11-1(1953), which was dark green in color, uniform, tolerant to the pea aphid, and moderately resistant to bacterial and Fusarium wilts (table 2). Staten transferred to the cotton breeding project at NMSU and Dr. Marvin Wilson assumed the duties of alfalfa breeder in 1955.

The life of NM 11-1 was short because the spotted alfalfa aphid was discovered near Roswell, NM, in 1955. Practically all alfalfa in existence at that time was extremely susceptible to this new pest. Because of a rapid spread of the spotted alfalfa aphid, almost all the United States alfalfa industry was threatened. The first significant discovery was that the recently released variety, Lahontan, (developed in Nevada for resistance to the stem nematode) was resis-tant to the spotted alfalfa aphid. Consequently, Lahontan and other Turkistan germplasm sources were heavily introduced into the New Mexico program in the mid-1950s by hybridization to New Mex-ico selections, or as direct, aphid-resistant selections. The inclu-sion of Turkistan germplasm also contributed a significant level of resistance to stem and root knot nematodes into the New Mexico breeding program.

The variety Zia was released in 1957 as one of the first varieties with resistance to the spotted alfalfa aphid (Moapa, a nondormant spotted alfalfa aphid resistant variety, was also released in 1957 from Arizona and Nevada) (table 2). When Dr. Marvin Wilson was promoted to Head of the Agronomy Department, Dr. Bill Melton assumed the duties of alfalfa breeder (1957). Dr. Melton had been an undergraduate student assistant for Glen Staten from 1951 to 1954. Dr. Wilson was assisted in the development of Zia by Clarence Watson and Dr. Melton. Under Dr. Melton '5 super-vision, the breeding program was expanded to include extensive basic studies into the breeding behavior of alfalfa, (inbreeding response, combining ability, methods of variety synthesis, and factors affecting advanced generation performance). Efforts were also devoted to factors associated with the development of hybrid alfalfa. The regular breeding program was continued with concerted efforts to combine resistance to the pea aphid and the spotted alfalfa aphid.

This effort culminated with the release of 'Mesilla' alfalfa in 1967 (table 2). Mesilla was moderately resistant to both aphids, as well as bacterial and Fusarium wilts.


 
 
 
Table 2. Characteristics of alfalfa varieties developed at NMSU
 
Pest Resistance2 
 
 
AN
Name
 Date of
Release
Dormancy1
PA
SAA
BAA
BW
FW 
SN
PRR
Race 1
Race 2
 
resistance level3
NM 11-1
1953
5
LR
S
S
MR
MR
--
S
S
S
Zia
1957
5
S
MR
S
MR
MR
--
S
S
 S
Mesilla
1967
6
MR
MR
S
MR
MR
--
S
S
S
Rincon
1975
7
MR
MR
S
LR
HR
--
S
S
S
Dona Ana
1982
6
R
R
S
MR
MR
MR
R
S
S
Malone
1987
6
HR
R
S
MR
MR
MR
R
R
R
Wilson
1987
5
R
MR
S
L
R
MR
S
S
S
 1I = very dormant, 9 = nondormant
2PA = pea aphid, SAA = spotted alfalfa aphid, BAA = blue alfalfa aphid, BW = bacterial wilt, Fw = Fusarium wilt,
  SN = stem nematode, PRR = Phytophthora root rot, AN = anthracnose
3S - susceptible, LR = low resistance, MR = moderate resistance, R = resistant, HR = highly resistant
 
 

Nondormant germplasm was introduced into the breeding program in the mid-1960s. Producers in the southern part of New Mexico were starting to use varieties with less dormancy than normal, such as Moapa and AS 13. The nondormant sources were first evaluated for seed yield, vigor and freedom from diseases as spaced plants in a nursery separate from the normal source nursery. The best parental plants were then progeny tested for resistance to the pea and spotted alfalfa aphid, with subsequent progeny tests for forage yield. Only after extensive testing were plants of nondormant origin added to the regular breeding program.

In 1969-1970, a new selection criteria was added to the program for resistance to lygus in an effort to increase seed production. The procedure for testing for lygus resistance developed by John Arledge (1972) (now at the Agricultural Science Center at Artesia) is still the only technique that has been successful in selecting for resistance to this pest. The process was improved by Dick Auld (now at the University of Idaho) by adding a cycle of field selection for seed production between cycles of laboratory selection for lygus resistance.

The result of adding the nondormant germplasm and subsequent selection for lygus resistance was the release of 'Rincon' in 1975 (table 2). Rincon is a moderately nondormant variety with high seed yield, tolerance to lygus, and resistant to pea aphid, spotted alfalfa aphid and Fusarium wilt.

Until the 1970s, the breeding program was essentially the same as originally set up by Glen Staten in 1945. Because of new objectives, the selection sequence was: 1) phenotypic selection from the source nursery (space plants) for vigor, freedom from disease and insect damage, and seed yield in the second year of the stand, 2) progeny tests, using open-pollinated seed for resistance to aphids during the winter months, 3) progeny tests for bacterial wilt and Fusarium wilt resistance in the field, and finally 4) forage yield testing of pro-geny of plants with high seed yield, aphid resistance and disease resistance. Any time the progeny of a plant did not perform well in a test, that plant was removed from the nursery. New source material was added each year by phenotypic selections from the various progeny tests and new varieties.

Several factors caused a significant change in the New Mexico Alfalfa Breeding Program in the 1970s: 1) a visit with Dr. I. J. Johnston, Cal/West Seeds, convinced Dr. Melton that phenotypic recurrent selection could be used to more rapidly respond to production problems, and as a method of incorporating new objectives and genetic materials into the program; 2) anthracnose and Phytophthora root rot were identified by the New Mexico alfalfa breeding group as significant production problems in the state; 3) forage quality was recognized as a significant factor in the marketability of New Mexico hay; 4) the phosphorus problem was identified; 5) nitrogen fixation by alfalfa was recog-nized as a partial, agricultural solution to the energy crisis; 6) a separate breeding program was established to increase "perform-ance of alfalfa with deficit levels of irrigation;" 7) Dr. Marvin Wilson stepped down as Associate Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station to assume responsibility for the stress breeding program; and 8) the incorporations of strain crossing as a breeding procedure.

A phenotypic recurrent selection program was initiated for resistance to anthracnose and Phytophthora root rot in the varieties Mesilla and El Unico by Larry Teuber (1972, now at University of California, Davis) and continued by Don Miller (now AgriPro.). Results of this program were the release of 'Do?a Ana' (1982), a semi-dormant variety with resistance to the pea aphid, spotted alfalfa aphid, bacterial wilt, Fusarium wilt, stem nematode and Phytophthora root rot (table 2); the release of MAN-5, a semi-dormant germplasm source with resistance to races 1 and 2 of an-thracnose (table 3); the release of EUAN-5, a nondormant germ-plasm source with resistance to races 1 and 2 of anthracnose (table 3); EUPH-5, a nondormant germplasm source with resistance to Phytophthora root rot (table 3); 'Malone' (1987), a semi-dormant variety with resistance to the pea aphid, spotted alfalfa aphid, bacterial wilt, Fusarium wilt, stem nematode, races 1 and 2 an-thracnose and Phytophthora root rot (table 2); and EPA-4 a non-dormant germplasm source with combined resistance to Phytophthora root rot and races 1 and 2 of anthracnose (table 3).


 
 
 Table 3. Characteristics of alfalfa germplasm releases at NMSU.
 
Pest Resistance2
 
 
AN
 Name
Date of Release 
Dormancy1 
 PA
SAA 
BAA 
BW 
FW 
SN 
PRR 
Race 1 
Race 2 
 
 resistance level3
 MAN-5
 1982
 6
 MR
 MR
 S
MR 
MR
 MR
 MR
 MR
 EUAN-5
 1957
 8
 MR
 MR
 S
 LR
 HR
 --
 S
 R
 R
 EUPH-5
 1967
8
 MR
 MR
 S
 LR
 HR
 --
 R
 LR
 LR
 EPA-4
 1975
8
 R
 R
 S
 LR
 HR
 --
 R
 R
 R
 ZIA 814
 1982
 5
 S
 MR
 S
 R
 R
 MR
 S
 S
 S
 P35
 1987
 5
 MR
 MR
 S
 MR
 MR
 --
 S
 S
 S
 Wilson
 1987
 5
 R
 MR
 S
 R
 R
 MR
 S
 S
 S
 11 = very dormant, 9 = nondormant
2PA = pea aphid, SAA = spotted alfalfa aphid, BAA = blue alfalfa aphid, BW = bacterial wilt, Fw = Fusarium wilt,
  SN = stem nematode, PRR = Phytophthora root rot, AN = anthracnose
3S - susceptible, LR = low resistance, MR = moderate resistance, R = resistant, HR = highly resistant
4Developed for improved performance under less than optimum moisture conditions
5Developed for abitlity to accumulate higher concentrations of phosphorus in plant tissue
 

The work on forage quality was initiated by Clarence Watson Jr. (now Mississippi State University) in 1972 at the urging of Dr. Don Miller of the Dairy Department, NM SU. The approach was unique at the time in that it involved mineral quality as well as more conventional quality factors such as protein, amino acid com-position, fiber, digestibility and saponins. The outcome of this work was threefold: 1) identification of the phosphorus problem in New Mexico hay, 2) development of alfalfa germplasm with the ability to uptake and/or accumulate increased quantities of phosphorus in the plant tissue; and 3) launching of the widely known hay packaging program by John Arledge of the Agricultural Science Center of Artesia.

The phosphorus problem was actually identified by Dr. Bob McCaslin, NMSU. Alfalfa plants grown in southern New Mexico had low phosphorus levels in the plant tissue, despite high soil test levels of phosphorus. This resulted in a high calcium: phosphorus ratio in the forage that, in turn, affected milk production in dairy cows. Chemical fertilizers did not solve this problem as evidenced by a lack of yield increases when fertilized, or increased phosphorus concentration in the plant tissue. Work to increase the phosphorus concentration in the alfalfa plant through genetic manipulation was initiated by David Miller (now Pioneer Hi-Bred Int. Inc.) in 1980.

The results of this work were the release of P-3 alfalfa germplasm source (1988) with the ability to accumulate 25 to 40% more phosphorus in the forage when grown in southern New Mexico (table 3), and the development of three other germplasm sources with increased phosphorus in the forage in elite dormant, semidormant and nondormant genetic sources.

Research to increase the nitrogen fixation potential of alfalfa was initiated during the energy crisis by Pat Duhigg (Now Agri. Seeds Research mt.). The laboratory phase of the research resulted in an alfalfa population with three to four times the potential nitrogen fixation of Mesilla. However, when this population was tested under field conditions for the ability to stimulate growth of suc-ceeding crops, no advantages for the supposedly high nitrogen fixing population were obtained. In 7 of 10 studies, a detrimental effect was obtained on crops following alfalfa.

The only positive part of this research was that significant amounts of soil nitrogen were added following plow down of non-dormant varieties. This increase in soil nitrogen was not reflected in increased yields of subsequent crops. This response launched several studies on allelopathy or autotoxicity by Robert Dunn, (now at Montana State University). These studies generally demonstrated that water extracts from alfalfa forage were at least partially toxic to succeeding broadleaf crops.

A separate program began in 1977 to investigate the potential to improve the performance of alfalfa under deficit levels of irriga-tion. Dr. Marvin Wilson assumed responsibility for this phase of alfalfa improvement when he stepped down as Associate Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station in 1978. Marvin retired in 1981 and Dr. Cliff Currier assumed responsibility for this project area in 1982. Dr. Currier had received his M.S. degree under Dr. Melton. Dr. Currier has expanded this project area to include development of tolerance to other environmental stress factors such as heat, salt., and interactions between biotic and abiotic stresses.

The initial result from this research was the development and release of 'Wilson' alfalfa (table 2). This cultivar has improved per-formance under deficit soil moisture conditions, without sacrific-ing yield potential under more optimum conditions. This is a first in alfalfa breeding.

Strain crossing was added to the alfalfa breeders weaponry, largely because of the efforts of Don Miller (now Agri Pro). Although proposed several years earlier as a plant breeding procedure, strain crossing was made popular, especially in the commercial breeding companies, by this research. It was demonstrated that strain crossing can be an effective plant breeding tool at the beginning of a breeding program, to resynthesize genetic materials into a program, and as a method of variety synthesis.

It is hoped that this research has contributed to New Mexico agriculture. New Mexico is in a unique situation in that it is one of only three states in the United States where the majority of the alfalfa acreage is planted to varieties developed by the public institution in that state.


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As A Training Program

No description of the New Mexico Alfalfa Breeding Program would be complete without mention of its accomplishments in training students of plant breeding. More than 60 students have obtained M.S. or Ph.D. degrees (or both) as members of the "Alfalfa Team" and several are mentioned in this report. Five were honored as Distinguished Alumni of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics at NMSU Centennial Celebration in 1988.

Initially, in the late 1950s, the graduate program at NMSU was not of sufficient quality to recommend it to outstanding students. However, several students worked 3-4 years as undergraduate assistants on the project and received much 'ditch bank' training in plant breeding, and subsequently went to other schools for ad-vanced academic training.

In the early 1960s, the graduate program in plant breeding at NMSU was expanded and permission was obtained to offer the Ph.D. degree in 1972. The first two Ph.D.s in Agronomy were from the alfalfa project. Eight alumni of this project are employed by NMSU. During the 1980s, 60 to 70% of the commercial alfalfa breeders in the United States were from this project and seven are forage breeders at other land grant schools. From 1980 to 1986, nearly 60 % of all alfalfa varieties developed in the United States were the accomplishment of graduates of this program.


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Early Alfalfa Publications at NM A & MA (by years)

1. Blount, A. E. 1892. Cereals, forage plants, grasses, textile plants, and sorghum. N. Mex. Agric. College Exp. Sta. Bull. 6.

2. Goss, Arthur. 1895. Nutritive value of alfalfa. N. Mex. Agric. College Exp. Sta. Bull 17.

3. VVooton, E. 0. 1896. Some New Mexico forage plants. N. Mex. Agric. College Exp. Sta. Bull. 18.

4. Keffer, C. A. 1899. Grasses arid forage crops. N. Mex. Agric. College Exp. Sta. Bull. 18.

5. Vernon, J. J. 1907. Dry farming in New Mexico. N. Mex. Agric. College Exp. Sta. Bull. 61.

6. Simpson, H. H. 1911. Alfalfa and corn for fattening lambs. N. Mex Agric. College Exp. Sta. Bull. 79.

7. Foster, L., and H. H. Simpson. 1914. Alfalfa pasture for hogs. N. Mex. Agric. College Exp. Sta. Bull. 90.

8. McNeeley, L.R., and G. W. Kable. 1915. Soil physics and s();l moisture in relation to first year growth of alfalfa. N. Mex. Agric. College Exp. Sta. Bull. 93.

9. Foster, L., and H. H. Simpson. 1915. Alfalfa hay forhogs. N. Mex. Agric. College Exp. Sta. Bull. 96.

10. Thompson, C. A., and E. L. Barrows. 1920. Soil moisture move-ment in relation to growth of alfalfa. N. Mex. Agric. Exp. Sta. Bull. 123.

11. Craig, E. E., and W. T. Conway. 1923. Mfalfa fertilizer expen.inent~. N. Mex. Agric. Exp. Sta. Bull. 137.

12. Quesenberry, G. k. 1923. Alfalfa. N. Mex. Agric. Exp. Sta. Bull. 139.

13. Overpeck, J. C., and W. T. Conway. 1926. Alfalfa variety trials. N. Mex. Agric. Exp. Sta. Bull. 152.

14. Staten, Glen, R. S. Stroud, and John Carter. 1945. Alfalfa production investigations in New Mexico. N. Mex. Agric. Exp. Sta. Bull. 323.

15. Staten, Glen, H. D. Jones, and D. H. Williams. 1953. Alfalfa varieties for New Mexico. N. Mex. Agric. Exp. Sta. Bull. 381.


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Other Literature

16. Barnes, D. K., E. T. Bingham, R. P. Murphy, O.J. Hunt, D. F. Beard, W. H. Skrdla, and L. R. Teuber. 1977. Alfalfa germplasm in the United States: genetic vulnerability, use, improvment, and maintenance. USDA, ARS Tech. Bull. 1571.

17. Berges, E. J., and L. A. Loseleben. 1980. New Mexico agricultural statistics. USDA, NMDA.

18. Cockerill, P. W. 1959. A statistical history of crop and livestock pro-duction in New Mexico. N. Mex. Agric. Exp. Sta. Bull. 438.

19. Dawson, George. 1983. New Mexico Agriculture: A profile N. Mex. Agric. Exp. Sta. 506.

20. Gerhardt, D. G., and C. M. Hayes. 1952. New Mexico agricultural statistics. USDA, NMDA.

21. Gerhardt, D. G., andj. G. Hard. 1954. New Mexico agricultural statics. USDA, NMDA.

22. Gerhardt, D. G., andj. G. Hard. 1986. New Mexico Agricultural statistics. USDA, NMDA.

23. Graber, L. F. 1950. A century of alfalfa culture in America. Agron. J. 42:525-533.

24. Sheck, Ree. 1977. Agriculture made New Mexico possible. N. Mex. Agric. Exp. Sta., Coop. Ext. 5cr., and NMDA.


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