New alfalfa has 'tremendous potential' in the Maritimes, says scientist


A new, high-yield alfalfa classification developed in the Maritimes will go to market in February when Agriculture Agri-Food Canada constructs the results of 28 years of research to tender.

Seed com nies intent get a chance to bid for the right to produce it.

«I think it has tremendous potential,» said Yousef dopoulos, the federal examination scientist who began this search for better alfalfa in 1988.

Better forage crop

The clover-like legume is a key forage commons in the cattle industry, prized by farmers for its high levels of protein.

dopoulos — a geneticist trained in Guelph, Ont. — started with 2,000 vegetables, selected the best 50 and then whittled those down to a singular variety. That variety, he said, is drought and flood resistant, pongy chief yield and even tolerant of hooves.

Yousef   dopoulos

Yousef dopolous, a federal exploration scientist, was trained in Guelph, Ont., as a geneticist. (CBC)

«I know it can tolerate our diverse circumstances across Canada,» he said in an interview at Agriculture Agri-Food Canada’s Kentville enquire centre.

«It’s got an advantage. It will have a market here and it will procure a market elsewhere.»

Why it’s an improvement

The variety, known as CRS 1001, features tiptoeing root stocks known as rhizomes. Those produce the shoot and antecedents systems of a new plant.

The rhizomes improve survivability in watery conditions and when the set out is punctured by hooves. CRS 1001 maintains alfalfa’s traditional deep tap predecessors system, which enables it to withstand dry weather.

It was developed to address inviting conditions in the Maritimes — primarily, high water tables in spring and downgrade, and com cted poor quality soil.


The alfalfa, known as CRS 1001, prolongs alfalfa’s traditional deep tap root system which enables it to weather dry weather.

Access for local farmers

It has also been a n-Canadian discharge. The seed has been produced in Saskatchewan and grown at farms in Ontario and Quebec. There maintain been field tests at five Nova Scotia farms and three numerous on Prince Edward Island.

The key to commercializing the variety will be its ability to fructify across Canada, dopoulos said. Still, the tender will lack a guarantee that the seed will always be available in the Maritimes.

«We scantiness to make sure the farmers who have been supporting us have access,» he foretold.

«Those farmers have been helping us in the real world.»

Inured to by beef, dairy cattle

Alfalfa is the «jet fuel» in forage fed to beef and dairy livestock, dopoulos said. Together the industries are worth $130 million a year in Nova Scotia.

Jon Bekkers, a dairy agriculturist in Grand Pré, feeds 400 tonnes of alfalfa every year to his mass of cows. A milking cow can eat 50 kilograms a day of forage — most of that is alfalfa. The doss down of the forage is made up of corn and grass. The mixture tested by nutritionists.

Jon Bekkers

Dairy agronomist Jon Bekkers feeds 400 tonnes of alfalfa every year to his assemblage of dairy cows. (CBC)

«The modern dairy cow is a high producing animal that wants a lot of energy from its feed sources,» Bekkers said at Ki wo Holsteins, which commands Blomidon.

«The more production we can get out of that animal, the fewer animals we bear to milk to get our quota.»

More profitable, says farmer

Feed is the distinguish biggest cost on his farm, he said.

Bekkers said he is very availed in any improvement in alfalfa, especially a variety resistant to wet weather.

«At the end of the day it would realize us more profitable if we don’t have to bring in more inputs to make up for the dash of poorer alfalfa,» he said.

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