Make Sure Your Alfalfa Fits

DuPont Pioneer offers varieties to meet specific challenges for every growing region.

Alfalfa, once considered a "one-size-fits-all" crop, now comes in varieties that feature different strengths to meet the needs of different growing environments.  Pioneer offers a wide range of varieties so growers can select the right product for the right acre.

Forage experts at DuPont Pioneer suggest growers review individual production challenges and plant the variety or varieties that provide the best solutions. The good news is that plenty of options are available for a range of growing environments.

Pioneer focuses on 5 categories of varieties. Each group brings its own specific grower benefit. The groups are:

  • Muscle - high yielding and very winterhardy
  • Forage quality
  • Western-adapted varieties
  • Leafhopper resistant
  • Lodging resistant

"Advances in alfalfa breeding have expanded grower options," says Dan Wiersma, DuPont Pioneer Alfalfa Business Manager. "Today’s alfalfa growers can choose from several varieties to fit their individual needs and growing environment."

The muscle group contains the more "traditional" varieties, the highest-yielding and most winterhardy. In addition, today's alfalfa varieties offer traits to defend against yield-threatening diseases such as Aphanomyces Race 2 and pests such as nematodes. Pioneer varieties are also available in several of the above categories, with Genuity® Roundup Ready® or HarvXtra® technology.

Breakout by Geography

Following is a breakout by geography of some of the top varieties to meet challenges that are common in each area:

Dairy Crescent (Eastern U.S. through Minnesota and Eastern half of the Dakotas) and Canada

54VQ52 – New for 2018, this product improves on 55V50, a top-performing muscle variety. It has enhanced resistance to multi-race Aphanomyces for better seedling establishment along with improved yield and forage quality.

55V50 - This muscle variety consistently yields well and has shown strong winterhardiness in difficult winter conditions. It's highly resistant to Aphanomyces races 1 and 2, Fusarium wilt and anthracnose. Pioneer scores alfalfa on a disease resistance index (DRI) with 35 being the highest achievable score. 55V50 has a DRI of 34.

55Q27 - This variety is part of the improved forage quality group, and it packs the yield of a muscle variety. That's a strong combination. For growers raising alfalfa to sell to dairy producers or for dairy producers looking to grow their own feed, this variety offers improved forage digestibility combined with proven yield performance. 55Q27 also scores a strong 34 on the DRI scale.

55H94 - If you want to avoid spraying for potato leafhoppers, this variety offers protection against the pest. In the Eastern portion of the U.S. where leafhoppers are a challenge almost every year, this variety is a prudent option. With a DRI of 34, 55H94 offers an elite package of diseases and insect protection.

54Q14 - This product features a high level of lodging tolerance and can stand when other varieties go down in adverse weather conditions or high yield environments. Wiersma notes avoiding just one lodging event per year can save a half ton of yield or more. An additional feature of this variety is its high forage quality, making it well-suited to dairy operations.

Western States

55Q27 & 55Q28 – These varieties are broadly adapted and offer high performance in the Western U.S. It brings muscle high yield in a high forage quality variety and is highly resistant to nematodes. Both varieties perform well in the Intermountain Northwest, where stem nematode pressure is high.

Semi and Nondormant (CA through parts of AZ, NM and TX)

58N57 & 57Q53 – These moderately non-dormant varieties offer strong resistance to aphids, stem nematodes, and root knot nematodes. They are a good fit in high-yield environments where 8-10 cuts are possible.

59N59 – This non-dormant variety delivers high yield in the Southwestern U.S. It has a good pest resistance package and a strong history of persistence in irrigated and dryland environments.

55Q27 - This broadly adapted high performance variety is a good fit for the West too. It brings muscle high yield in a high forage quality variety and is highly resistant to nematodes. 55Q27 performs particularly well in the Intermountain Northwest, where stem nematode pressure is high. 55Q27 scores a strong 34 on the DRI scale.

Alfalfa with Genuity® Roundup Ready® technology (US only)

For 2018, Pioneer offers multiple alfalfa varieties with Genuity® Roundup Ready® technology. These varieties enable the use of Roundup® herbicide as an additional option for weed control. University trial results show the effective weed control obtained with Roundup herbicide can add an average 1/2 ton of yield during the stand establishment year.

54VR10 – New for 2018, this new Roundup Ready® variety provides the next level of yield potential in the Pioneer line-up. This variety brings a top-notch disease resistance package including multi-race Aphanomyces resistance for greater establishment success.

55VR08 – This widely adapted Roundup Ready® variety brings excellent yield potential together with winterhardiness and an excellent disease package for establishment success. In addition, this variety features very good stem nematode resistance making it suited to areas with high stem nematode activity.

55VR05 - A Western-adapted, late fall dormant variety with good forage yield potential. High resistance to stem nematode makes this variety suitable for Western growing regions where stem nematodes are a perennial issue.

53VR03 - A Roundup Ready®, very winterhardy, early fall dormant (FD3) variety adapted to Northern states. This variety is available in Wyoming, Montana, the Dakotas, and Minnesota where a FD3 variety is desired. It has a solid disease resistance package, including Phytophthora resistance.

Alfalfa with HarvXtra® technology (US and Eastern Canada only)

54HVX41 & 54HVX42 – These two widely adapted Roundup Ready® varieties offer the latest technology for improved forage quality in alfalfa. By dramatically reducing lignin production in the plant, these varieties offer high fiber digestibility, giving growers greater flexibility around harvest and the potential for harvesting high quality forage at every cut. Both have a solid disease package and excellent winterhardiness.

Help With Decisions

Contact your local Pioneer sales professional for additional help on deciding what products best fit your growing conditions. Pioneer provides a wide array of choices to fit individual circumstances. "Many competitors offer limited options or a one-size-fits-all alfalfa variety," Wiersma points out. "Pioneer offers specific varieties for each growing environment. The varieties highlighted here are the core of the Pioneer alfalfa lineup."

The key is to know your soils and main pests, then manage your alfalfa operation accordingly, he says. Visit to learn more about Pioneer alfalfa varieties or contact your local Pioneer sales professional.

Dan Wiersma is a DuPont Pioneer alfalfa specialist in Johnston, Iowa. His alfalfa and forage management career spans more than three decades, spending most of his time in Wisconsin with Pioneer and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Wiersma currently manages the alfalfa business for Pioneer.


Roundup Ready® alfalfa

Genuity® and Roundup Ready® are registered trademarks used under license from Monsanto Company.

HarvXtra® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology

HarvXtra® is a registered trademark of Forage Genetics International, LLC. HarvXtra® alfalfa with Roundup Ready® technology is enabled with technology from The Samuel Roberts Nobel Foundation, Inc. Roundup Ready® is a registered trademark used under license from Monsanto Company.
Do not export Pioneer® brand alfalfa seed or crops containing Genuity® Roundup Ready® technology including hay or hay products, to China pending import approval. In addition, due to the unique cropping practices, do not plant this product in Imperial County, California.
Always Read and Follow Pesticide Label Directions. Alfalfa with the Genuity® Roundup Ready® technology provides crop safety for over-the-top applications of labeled glyphosate herbicides when applied according to label directions. Glyphosate agricultural herbicides will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. ACCIDENTAL APPLICATION OF INCOMPATIBLE HERBICIDES TO THIS VARIETY COULD RESULT IN TOTAL CROP LOSS.
Pioneer is a member of Excellence Through Stewardship® (ETS). Pioneer products are commercialized in accordance with ETS Product Launch Stewardship Guidance and in compliance with the Pioneer policies regarding stewardship of those products. Crops and materials containing biotech traits may only be exported to or used, processed, or sold in jurisdictions where all necessary regulatory approvals have been granted for those crops and materials. It is a violation of national and international laws to move materials containing biotech traits across borders into jurisdictions where their import is not permitted. Growers should discuss these issues with their purchaser or grain handler to confirm the purchaser or handler’s position on products being purchased. For further information on the approval status of biotech traits, please visit
Excellence Through Stewardship® is a registered trademark of Excellence Through Stewardship.


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