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ALFALFA.   I I7

 

unless the roots can find their way through cracks. Alfalfa will stand a certain amount of alkali in the ground, but it should be leached out from the surface before the seed is sown, and afterwards should be kept from five to six feet below by irrigation. Acidity has always a detrimental influence. Where the soil is sour, an application of lime will prove beneficial.

Climate: As the roots go deep, Alfalfa, although dwarfed in growth, is not seriously affected by severe drought. It likes a reasonable amount of moisture but is sensitive to an excess. If the subsoil is impervious, so that after a heavy rain the surface water cannot drain off rapidly, the accumulation will prove disastrous or will at least reduce the vitality of the plants. The soil must therefore be kept well drained, especially in early spring. In poorly drained fields, Alfalfa will be injured and sometimes killed in the low spots where water has accumulated. An excess of water in the ground will at least keep the plants back and prevent them from making an early start. Where the drainage is poor, alternate freezing and thawing does more harm than in well drained land as the heaving of the soil injures the root system. The strain is often so great that the taproot is ruptured and the plant dies.

Inoculation: Like other leguminous plants, Alfalfa depends for its vigorous development on the bacteria in the nodules of the roots, which are closely related to, or perhaps identical with, those on Sweet Clover; it thrives well on soil where Sweet Clover has been grown.

Habits of growth: Alfalfa is generally sown in the spring. The young plants are delicate and succeed best where there is no competition. The land should therefore be as free as possible from weed seeds. As the plants are rather tender the first yt ar, they should be given every chance to become as strong as pc ssible to withstand the winter. It is therefore not advisable to cut or pasture Alfalfa the first season. During the second and following years the growth starts early and continues until late in the fall, new branches developing from the crown of the root. Under favourable conditions Alfalfa reaches a great age and gives large returns.

 

Agricultural value: The feeding value of Alfalfa was recognized in Persia long before the Christian era and it was highly es-teemed by the Arabians. At present no fodder plant is known which can compete with it in nutritive value and general importance for feeding. It is relished by all kinds of stock, horses, cattle, sheep


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