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Encyclopedia > Alfalfa
Alfalfa

Medicago sativa
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Trifolieae
Genus: Medicago
Species: M. sativa
Binomial name
Medicago sativa
L.
Subspecies

M. sativa subsp. ambigua
M. sativa subsp. microcarpa
M. sativa subsp. sativa
M. sativa subsp. varia
Ref: ILDIS as of November 2005 A poster for the 1931 Our Gang comedy Love Business featuring depictions of (from left to right): Pete the Pup, Jackie Cooper, and Norman Chubby Chaney. ... The name The Little Rascals refers primarily to the television package of producer Hal Roachs Our Gang theatrical short film comedies, specifically those made between 1929 and 1938. ... Carl Dean Alfalfa Switzer (August 7, 1927 – January 21, 1959) was an American child actor, professional dog breeder and expert hunting guide, most notable for appearing in the Our Gang short subjects series as Alfalfa, one of the series most popular and best-remembered characters. ... Alfalfa County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1600x1067, 236 KB) Lucerne Flowers File links The following pages link to this file: Alfalfa ... Scientific classification or biological classification is a method by which biologists group and categorize species of organisms. ... For other uses, see Plant (disambiguation). ... Classes Magnoliopsida - Dicots Liliopsida - Monocots The flowering plants or angiosperms are the most widespread group of land plants. ... Magnoliopsida is the botanical name for a class: this name is formed by replacing the termination -aceae in the name Magnoliaceae by the termination -opsida (Art 16 of the ICBN). ... Families Fabaceae (legumes) Quillajaceae Polygalaceae (milkwort family) Surianaceae The Fabales are an order of flowering plants, included in the rosid group of dicotyledons. ... Subfamilies Faboideae Caesalpinioideae Mimosoideae References GRIN-CA 2002-09-01 The name Fabaceae belongs to either of two families, depending on viewpoint. ... Tribes Abreae Adesmieae Aeschynomeneae Amorpheae Bossiaeeae Brongniartieae Carmichaelieae Cicereae Crotalarieae Dalbergieae Desmodieae Dipterygeae Euchresteae Galegeae Genisteae Hedysareae Indigofereae Liparieae Loteae Millettieae Mirbelieae Phaseoleae Podalyrieae Psoraleeae Robinieae Sophoreae Swartzieae Thermopsideae Trifolieae Vicieae Faboideae is a subfamily of the flowering plant family Fabaceae or Leguminosae. ... Species Medicago arabica Medicago heldreichii Medicago hybrida Medicago laciniata Medicago littoralis Medicago lupulina Medicago minima Medicago monantha Medicago monspeliaca Medicago orbicularis Medicago polymorpha Medicago praecox Medicago rigidula Medicago rugosa Medicago ruthenica Medicago sativa Medicago scutellata Medicago secundiflora Medicago truncatula Medicago turbinata Ref: ITIS 183622 as of 2002-07-31 Alfalfa... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Carl Linnaeus, Latinized as Carolus Linnaeus, also known after his ennoblement as  , (May 23, 1707[1] – January 10, 1778), was a Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist[2] who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of nomenclature. ...

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa), also known as Lucerne, Purple Medic and Trefoil (Arabic: البرسيم الحجازي; al-fasfasa), is a perennial flowering plant cultivated as an important forage crop. Arabic ( or just ) is the largest living member of the Semitic language family in terms of speakers. ... Red Valerian, a perennial plant. ... Classes Magnoliopsida - Dicots Liliopsida - Monocots The flowering plants or angiosperms are the most widespread group of land plants. ...


Alfalfa is one of the most important legumes used in agriculture. The US is the largest alfalfa producer in the world. The leading alfalfa growing states (within the U.S.A.) are California, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The upper Midwestern states account for about 50% of US production, the North eastern states 10%, and western states 40% of US production, the latter mostly under irrigation. Alfalfa is not very important in the Southeastern states. However, alfalfa has a wide range of adaptation and can be grown from very cold northern plains to high mountain valleys, from rich temperate agricultural regions to Mediterranean climates and searing hot deserts. Varieties of soybean seeds, a popular legume The term legume has two closely related meanings in botany, a situation encountered with many botanical common names of useful plants whereby an applied name can refer to either the plant itself, or to the edible fruit (or useful part). ... Motto: (Out Of Many, One) (traditional) In God We Trust (1956 to date) Anthem: The Star-Spangled Banner Capital Washington D.C. Largest city New York City None at federal level (English de facto) Government Federal constitutional republic  - President George Walker Bush (R)  - Vice President Dick Cheney (R) Independence from... Official language(s) English Capital Sacramento Largest city Los Angeles Largest metro area Greater Los Angeles Area  Ranked 3rd  - Total 158,302 sq mi (410,000 km²)  - Width 250 miles (400 km)  - Length 770 miles (1,240 km)  - % water 4. ... Official language(s) English Capital Pierre Largest city Sioux Falls Area  Ranked 17th  - Total 77,163 sq mi (199,905 km²)  - Width 210 miles (340 km)  - Length 380 miles (610 km)  - % water 1. ... Official language(s) None Capital Madison Largest city Milwaukee Area  Ranked 23rd  - Total 65,498 sq mi (169,790 km²)  - Width 260 miles (420 km)  - Length 310 miles (500 km)  - % water 17  - Latitude 42° 30′ N to 47° 05′ N  - Longitude 86° 46′ W to 92° 53′ W Population  Ranked... Irrigation is the artificial application of water to the soil usually for assisting in growing crops. ...


Alfalfa lives from three to twelve years, depending on variety and climate. It is a cool season perennial legume, growing to a height of 1 meter. It resembles clover with clusters of small purple flowers. It also has a deep root system sometimes stretching to 4.5 metres. This makes it very resilient, especially to droughts. It has a tetraploid genome. Varieties of soybean seeds, a popular legume Pea pods A legume is a plant in the family Fabaceae (or Leguminosae), or a fruit of these plants. ... Species See text Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Trifolium Clover (Trifolium) is a genus of about 300 species of plants in the pea family Fabaceae. ... Look up flower in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... ROOT is an object-oriented software package developed by CERN. It was originally designed for particle physics data analysis and contains several features specific to this field, but it is also commonly used in other applications such as astronomy and data mining. ... Polyploid (in Greek: πολλαπλόν - multiple) cells or organisms contain more than one copy (ploidy) of their chromosomes. ... In biology the genome of an organism is the whole hereditary information of an organism that is encoded in the DNA (or, for some viruses, RNA). ...


Alfalfa is native to Iran, where it was probably domesticated during the Bronze Age to feed horses being brought from Central Asia. It came to Greece around 490 B.C. being used as a horse feed for Persian army. It was introduced from Chile to the United States around 1860. It is widely grown throughout the world as forage for cattle, and is most often harvested as hay. Alfalfa has the highest feeding value of all common hay crops, being used less frequently as pasture. Like other legumes, its root nodules contain bacteria, like Rhizobium, with the ability to fix nitrogen, producing a high-protein feed regardless of available nitrogen in the soil. Domesticated animals, plants, and other organisms are those whose collective behavior, life cycle, or physiology has been altered as a result of their breeding and living conditions being under human control for multiple generations. ... The Bronze Age is a period in a civilizations development when the most advanced metalworking has developed the techniques of smelting copper from natural outcroppings and alloys it to cast bronze. ... Map of Central Asia showing three sets of possible boundaries for the region Central Asia located as a region of the world Central Asia is a vast landlocked region of Asia. ... For general information about the genus, including other species of cattle, see Bos. ... Stacked hay in Romania Haystacks on stilts in Paddy fields, North Kanara, India Hay is dried grass or legumes cut, stored, and used for animal feed, particularly for grazing animals like cattle, horses, goats and sheep. ... Pastureland Pasture is land with lush herbaceous vegetation cover used for grazing of ungulates as part of a farm or ranch. ... Soybean root nodules, each containing billions of Bradyrhizobium bacteria Rhizobia (from the Greek words riza = root and bios = Life) are soil bacteria that fix nitrogen (diazotrophy) after becoming established inside root nodules of legumes (Fabaceae). ... Schematic representation of the flow of Nitrogen through the environment. ... Loess field in Germany Surface-water-gley developed in glacial till, Northern Ireland Technically, soil forms the pedosphere: the interface between the lithosphere (rocky part of the planet) and the biosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere. ...


Its wide cultivation beginning in the seventeenth century was an important advance in European agriculture. Its symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria and use as animal feed greatly improved agricultural efficiency. When grown on soils where it is well-adapted, alfalfa is the highest yielding forage plant.


Alfalfa is a plant that exhibits autotoxicity, which means that it is difficult for alfalfa seed to grow in existing stands of alfalfa. Therefore, it is recommended that alfalfa fields be cleared or rotated before reseeding. Autotoxicity is self-destruction of a species through the production of chemicals that escape into the environment and directly inhibit the growth of that species. ... Satellite image of circular crop fields in Haskell County, Kansas in late June 2001. ...


Its primary use is for dairy production, followed by beef, sheep, horses and goats, but it is sometimes used for human consumption. Alfalfa sprouts are used as a salad ingredient in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Tender shoots are eaten in some places as a leaf vegetable. Human consumption of older plant parts is limited primarily by very high fiber content. Dehydrated alfalfa leaf is commercially available as a dietary supplement in several forms, such as tablets, powders and tea. Alfalfa is believed to be a galactagogue. Mixed bean sprouts Sprouting is the practice of soaking, draining, then rinsing at regular intervals seeds until they germinate and begin to sprout. ... This article is about the plant section. ... Fresh Swiss chard Fresh water spinach Creamed spinach Steamed kale Leaf vegetables, also called potherbs, greens, or leafy greens, are plant leaves eaten as a vegetable, sometimes accompanied by tender petioles and shoots. ... A dietary supplement is intended to supply nutrients, (vitamins, minerals, fatty acids or amino acids) that are missing or not consumed in sufficient quantity in a persons diet. ... A galactagogue is a substance, typically a herb, that increases lactation. ...

Contents

Culture

Alfalfa can be sown in spring or fall, and does best on well-drained soils with a neutral pH of 6.8 – 7.5. Alfalfa requires a great deal of potash. Soils low in fertility should be fertilized with manure or a chemical fertilizer, but correction of pH is particularly important. Usually a seeding rate of 13 – 20 kg/hectare (12 – 25 lb/acre) in climatic acceptable regions and a rate of 22 kg/hectare (20 lb/acre) in southern regions is used. A nurse crop is often used, particularly for spring plantings, to reduce weed problems. Herbicides are sometimes used instead. A genetically modified variety which is tolerant to the herbicide Roundup has been developed and is was sold in the United States pending deregulation. In 2006 the USDA put a hold on any purchase of Round up Ready. The correct title of this article is . ... Potash Potash (or carbonate of potash) is an impure form of potassium carbonate (K2CO3) mixed with other potassium salts. ... Animal manure is often a mixture of animals feces and bedding straw, as in this example from a stable. ... In agriculture, a nurse crop is an annual crop used to assist in establishment of a perennial. ... A herbicide is a pesticide used to kill unwanted plants. ... Genetic engineering, genetic modification (GM), and gene splicing (once in widespread use but now deprecated) are terms for the process of manipulating genes in an organism, usually outside of the organisms normal reproductive process. ... Roundup is the brand name of a systemic, broad-spectrum herbicide produced by the U.S. life sciences giant Monsanto. ...


In most climates, alfalfa is cut three to four times a year but is harvested up to 12 times per year in Arizona and Southern California. Total yields are typically around 8 tonne/hectare (4 ton/acre) but yields have been recorded up to 20 tonnes/ha (16 ton/acre). Yields vary due to region and with weather, and with stage of maturity when cut. Later cuttings improve yield but reduce nutritional content.

Alfalfa leafcutter bee, Megachile rotundata, a pollinator on alfalfa flower

Alfalfa is considered an 'insectary' due to the large number of insects which are found there. Some pests such as Alfalfa weevil, aphids, and the potato leafhopper can reduce alfalfa yields dramatically, particularly with the second cutting when weather is warmest. Chemical controls are sometimes used to prevent this. Alfalfa is also susceptible to root rots including phytophora, rhizoctonia, and Texas Root Rot. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (1314x1418, 608 KB) Megachile rotundata pollinator on alfalfa flower. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (1314x1418, 608 KB) Megachile rotundata pollinator on alfalfa flower. ... Binomial name Megachile rotundata Fabricius, 1787 The Alfalfa Leafcutter Bee (megachile rotundata) is a species of bee cultured solely for pollination purposes. ... A pollinator is the agent that moves pollen from the male anthers of a flower to the female stigma of a flower to accomplish fertilization or syngamy of the female gamete in the ovule of the flower by the male gamete from the pollen grain. ... genera: many hundreds including: Graminella Graphocephala Homalodisca Idiocerus Leafhopper is a common name applied to any species from the family Cicadellidae. ... Texas Root Rot (also known as Cotton Root Rot) is a pathogen fairly common in the U.S. southwest and Mexico that causes sudden wilt and death of affected plants usually during the warmer months. ...


Alfalfa seed production requires pollinators to be present in the fields when in bloom. Alfalfa pollination is somewhat problematic because the keel of the flower trips to help pollen transfer to the foraging bee, striking them in the head. Western honey bees do not like being struck in the head repeatedly, and often learn to defeat this action by drawing nectar from the side of the flower, thus pollination is not accomplished.[1] The majority of the pollination is accomplished by young bees that have not yet learned the trick of robbing the flower without tripping it. When honey bees are used for pollination, the beehives are stocked at a very high rate to maximize the number of young bees. A pollinator is the agent that moves pollen from the male anthers of a flower to the female stigma of a flower to accomplish fertilization or syngamy of the female gamete in the ovule of the flower by the male gamete from the pollen grain. ... A flower-fly pollinating a Common Daisy (Bellis perennis) Pollination is an important step in the reproduction of seed plants: the transfer of pollen grains (male gametes) to the plant carpel, the structure that contains the ovule (female gamete). ... Keel can be used to refer to: Keel, the central beam of the hull of a boat. ... Look up flower in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... SEM image of pollen grains from a variety of common plants: sunflower (Helianthus annuus), morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea), prairie hollyhock (Sidalcea malviflora), oriental lily (Lilium auratum), evening primrose (Oenothera fruticosa), and castor bean (Ricinus communis). ... For other uses, see Western honey bee and Bee (disambiguation). ... Binomial name Linnaeus, 1758 Synonyms Apis mellifica Linnaeus, 1761 The Western honey bee or European honey bee (Apis mellifera) is a species of honey bee. ... Nectar robbing refers to an insect (or other visitor, such as a bird) visiting a flowering plant and removing nectar without pollinating the plant, for example by drilling a hole in the corolla. ... Nectar of camellia Nectar, in botany, is a sugar-rich liquid produced by the flowers of plants in order to attract pollinating animals. ... Saturation pollination is a pollination technique for agricultural crops that are normally avoided by beekeepers because they do not yield a honey crop, or when bees are used in excess of the number that would be placed near the crop for honey production. ...


Today the alfalfa leafcutter bee is increasingly used to circumvent this problem. As a solitary but gregarious bee species, it does not build colonies or store honey, but is a very efficient pollinator of alfalfa seed. Nesting is in individual tunnels in wooden or plastic material, supplied by the alfalfa seed growers.[1] Binomial name Megachile rotundata Fabricius, 1787 The Alfalfa Leafcutter Bee (megachile rotundata) is a species of bee cultured solely for pollination purposes. ...


A smaller amount of alfalfa seed is pollinated by the alkali bee, mostly in the northwestern USA. It is cultured in special beds near the seed fields. These bees also have their own problems. They are not portable like honey bees; they take several seasons to build up, when fields are planted in new areas.[1] Honey bees are still trucked to many of the fields at bloom time.

This article is a list of diseases of alfalfa (Medicago sativa). ...

Harvesting

Cylindrical bales of alfalfa

When alfalfa is to be used as hay, it is usually cut and baled. Loose haystacks are still used in some areas, but bales are much easier to transport and are easier to keep hold of when being stored. Ideally, the hay is cut just as the field is beginning to flower. When using farm equipment rather than hand-harvesting, the process begins with a swather, which cuts the alfalfa and arranges it in windrows. In areas where drying down of the alfalfa is problematic and slow, a machine know as mower-conditioner is used to cut the hay. The mower-conditioner has either a set of rollers or flails through which the hay passes after being cut which crimps or breaks the stems in order to facilitate faster dry down of the hay. After it has dried, a tractor pulling a baler collects the hay into bales. There are three types of bales commonly used for alfalfa. Small "square" bales — actually rectangular, and typically about 40 x 45 x 100 cm (14 in x 18 in x 38 in) — are used for small animals and individual horses. The small square bales weigh between 25 – 30 kg (50 – 70 pounds) depending on moisture, and can easily be hand separated into "flakes". ImageMetadata File history File links Download high resolution version (1760x1168, 543 KB) Round bales of alfalfa in a Montana field Photo by Gary D. Robson. ... ImageMetadata File history File links Download high resolution version (1760x1168, 543 KB) Round bales of alfalfa in a Montana field Photo by Gary D. Robson. ... Stacked hay in Romania Haystacks on stilts in Paddy fields, North Kanara, India Hay is dried grass or legumes cut, stored, and used for animal feed, particularly for grazing animals like cattle, horses, goats and sheep. ... Bale can refer to any of the following: Look up bale in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... A swather is a farm implement that cuts hay or small grain crops and forms them into a windrow. ... A windrow is a row of cut hay or small grain crop. ... A round baler A baler is a piece of farm machinery that is used to compress a cut, raked, crop (such as hay or straw) into bales and bind the bales with twine. ...


Cattle ranches use large round bales, typically 1.4 to 1.8 m (4 to 6 feet) in diameter and weighing up to 500 – 1,000 kg. These bales can be placed in stable stacks, placed in large feeders for herds of horses, and unrolled on the ground for large herds of cattle. The bales can be loaded and stacked with a tractor using a spike, known as a bale spear, that pierces the center of the bale, or with a grapple (claw) on the tractor's front-end loader. Binomial name Equus caballus Linnaeus, 1758 The horse (Equus caballus, sometimes seen as a subspecies of the Wild Horse, Equus ferus caballus) is a large odd-toed ungulate mammal, one of ten modern species of the genus Equus. ... For general information about the genus, including other species of cattle, see Bos. ...


A more recent innovation is large "square" bales, roughly the same proportions as the small squares, but much larger. The bale size was set so that stacks would fit perfectly on a large flatbed truck.


When used as feed for dairy cattle it is often made into haylage by a process known as ensiling. Rather than drying it down to the level of dry hay it is chopped finely and put into silos, trenches, or bags, where the oxygen supply can be limited allowing it to ferment. This allows it to remain in a state in which the nutrient levels are closer to that of fresh forage, and is more palatable in the high performance diet of dairy cattle. Silage (hay) somewhere in Allschwil or Schönenbuch, near Basel, Switzerland. ... Ensilage is the process of preserving green food for cattle in an undried condition in a storage silo, a pit for holding grain from which air has been, as far as possible, excluded. ... The Silos are a band formed by Walter Salas Hamara in Gainsesville Florida in 1985. ... For other uses, see Fermentation. ...


Varieties

Small square bales of alfalfa

Considerable research and development has been done with this important plant. Older cultivars such as 'Vernal' have been the standard for years, but many better public and private varieties are available now, and are adapted to the needs of particular climates. Private companies release many new varieties each year in the US. ImageMetadata File history File links Download high resolution version (1760x1168, 479 KB) Square bales of alfalfa in a Montana field. ... ImageMetadata File history File links Download high resolution version (1760x1168, 479 KB) Square bales of alfalfa in a Montana field. ... A cultivar is a cultivated variety of a plant species. ...


Fall Dormancy is a major characteristic of alfalfa varieties. More 'dormant' varieties have reduced growth in the fall, a response due to low temperatures and reduced day lengths. 'Non-dormant' varieties exhibit winter growth activity, and therefore are grown in long-seasoned environments such as Mexico, Arizona, and Southern California, whereas 'dormant' lines are grown in the Upper Midwest, Canada, and the Northeast. 'Non-dormant' lines are susceptible to winter-kill in cold climates, and have poorer persistence, but can be higher yielding.


Most alfalfa cultivars contain genetic material from Sickle Medick (M. falcata), a wild variety of alfalfa which naturally hybridizes with M. sativa to produce Sand Lucerne (M. sativa ssp. varia). This species may bear either the purple flowers of alfalfa or the yellow of sickle medick, and is so called for its ready growth in sandy soil.


Most of the improvements in alfalfa over the last decades have been in disease resistance, improved ability to overwinter in cold climates, and multileaf traits. Disease resistance is important because it improves the usefulness of alfalfa on poorly drained soils, and during wet years.


Multileaf alfalfa has more than three leaflets per leaf. These lines may have a higher nutritional content by weight because there is relatively more leafy matter for the same amount of stem.


Modern alfalfa varieties have probably a wider range of insect, disease, and nematode resistance than many other agricultural species. The North American Alfalfa Improvement Conference records new varieties and encourages communication between breeders.


Trivia

  • In Of Mice and Men, the popular novella authored by John Steinbeck, Lenny becomes increasingly obsessed with growing Alfalfa for his rabbits for if he ever gets a farm with George.
  • The word "alfalfa" is visually interesting in that it consists of only seven letters of the three letter repeating sequence (ALF). For example how many times does the word "alfalfa" appear in the following 25 character string (alfalfalfalfalfalfalfalfa)? It appears seven times. The question remains, how unique is the word "alfalfa" in the English language? Are there other English language words composed of six, seven, or more letters that are made up of only a repeating three letter sequence?

Of Mice and Men is a novella by John Steinbeck, first published in 1937, which tells the tragic story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced Anglo migrant ranch workers in California during the Great Depression (1929-1941). ... A novella is a narrative work of prose fiction somewhat longer than a short story but shorter than a novel. ... John Ernst Steinbeck (February 27, 1902 – December 20, 1968) was one of the best-known and most widely read American writers of the 20th century. ... Catch 22 can refer to: A book by Joseph Heller, or the movie based on the book; see Catch-22. ... Joseph Heller (May 1, 1923 – December 12, 1999) was an American satirical novelist and playwright. ... Major Major Major Major is a 31-year-old fictional character in the 1961 novel Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. ...

References

  1. ^ a b c Milius, Susan (January 6, 2007). "Most Bees Live Alone: No hives, no honey, but maybe help for crops". Science News 171 (1): 11-3. Retrieved on 2007-01-15. 

is the 6th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era. ... Science News is an American weekly magazine devoted to short articles about new scientific and technical developments, typically gleaned from recent scientific and technical journals. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era. ... is the 15th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ...

External links

Look up Alfalfa in
Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Medicago sativa
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  Results from FactBites:
 
Eat More Alfalfa (1108 words)
Alfalfa can be sown in spring or fall, it likes a well-drained soil with potash as a fertilizer.
Because of a long root system which absorbs minerals, alfalfa is an outstanding source of nutrition with calcium, magnesium, potassium, beta-carotene, chlorophyll and vitamins A, B-12, C, D, E and K. The leaves contain all eight of the essential amino acids.
Alfalfa is an excellent alkalizing food, a mild laxative and a diuretic.
Alfalfa - Herbal Index - herbindex.net (0 words)
Alfalfa is native to Iran, where it was probably domesticated during the Bronze Age to feed horses being brought from Central Asia.
Alfalfa sprouts are used as a salad ingredient in the United States and Australia.
Alfalfa has the potential to be the most prolific of all leaf vegetable crops, processed by drying and grinding into powder, or by pulping to extract leaf concentrate.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

COMMENTARY     

Paul Frizzell
9th May 2010
Can Western Washington produce a good crop of alfalfa?

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