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Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) (Lucerne)


  • Yield based on 3 harvests/season (pure alfalfa, no grass)
  • Seeds/pound: 200,000
  • Seeding rate: 12-15 lbs pure live seed/acre
  • Seeding date: early spring, or late summer before August 15
  • Optimum harvest management for 40% NDF (hay) or 45% NDF (haylage) is generally 3 harvests per year in NYS, and is influenced by variety
  • If grazing, select variety specifically developed for grazing


  • excellent quality possible
  • higher yielding than grass, on good alfalfa soils
  • more drought tolerant than grass


  • not adapted to acid or variably drained soils
  • not suitable for alfalfa snout beetle-infested regions
  • can cause bloat
  • needs fall rest period
  • potential for heaving on many soil types in NYS

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