Alfalfa is the highest-yielding perennial forage crop grown in Ontario and the most frequently grown forage legume. It produces more protein per unit area than other forage legumes and can be grown along or in combination with grass species. For high yields and persistence, alfalfa requires well-drained soil, a pH above 6.1, adequate fertility and the proper harvest management. Well-managed alfalfa normally persists for 3 or more years. The protein and energy levels of alfalfa-based forage are determined by stage of growth at the time of cutting. Alfalfa has a critical fall harvest period that should be observed to avoid winterkill.

Perennial Legumes

Most legumes grown for forage have taproots and broad, compound leaves (composed of a number of leaflets) that are arranged alternately on the stem. New shoots originate from the crown of the plant, and the growing point of each shoot is located at the top of the shoot. As a family, legumes produce higher qualities of protein than grases.