The most productive and widely adapted forage species is alfalfa. Alfalfa is a perennial plant and has been known to live longer than five years or more. The Experimental Farm in Fort Vermilion recently sod seeded into an Anik alfalfa stand that was estimated at twenty years of age. Thus decision to produce alfalfa and choose an appropriate variety may have long-term consequences.
There are over 230 alfalfa varieties in North America and every year this number increases by 20-30. Varieties differ substantially in regards to winterkill. Varieties with resistance to diseases (bacterial wilt, Fusarium wilt and root rot) and high winter hardiness can reduce chances of winterkill. Planting high yielding and well-adapted varieties ensures good yields due to healthy, vigorous and long-lasting stands. Severe winter conditions in Mackenzie County make variety hardiness a primary consideration in variety selection.