|Pasture type and use||Perennial legume with main growth in spring/summer/autumn. Irrigated or dryland. Hay, grazing, silage, crop rotations.|
|Area of adaptation||Irrigated areas, dryland areas in all regions except Upper and Lower Western.|
|Min. average annual rainfall||350 mm (southern NSW) to 400 mm (northern NSW)|
|Soil requirements||Deep, well drained. pH(Ca) > 5.2 (topsoil and subsoil). Soil aluminium less than 5%. Good layout and drainage are critical for irrigation to avoid disease and scald. Seedlings very sensitive to salinity; established plants moderately tolerant.|
|Varieties||Select varieties on the basis of late autumn/winter growth; resistance to aphids, root rot, anthracnose, bacterial wilt and stem nematode; hay quality; productivity; persistence; and adaptation (e.g. to acid soils).|
|- as only species||Irrigated hay 12-15 kg/ha.|
Dryland hay/grazing 1-3 kg/ha (up to 8 kg/ha in high-rainfall or high-soil-moisture areas), depending on moisture likely to be available.
|- in mixtures||Irrigated 2-5 kg/ha.|
Dryland 0.5-3 kg/ha.
|Sowing time||Autumn: all districts irrigation and dryland.|
Early spring: irrigation, dryland in higher elevated districts.
|Companion species||Compatible in many mixtures; however, sensitivity to herbicides, grazing management requirements and competitive effects (especially for moisture) limit use.|
|Major nutrient deficiencies||Phosphorus, sulfur, potassium, molybdenum; occasionally boron, zinc.|
|Main insect pests||Spotted alfalfa aphid, bluegreen aphid, redlegged earth mite, blue oat mite, lucerne flea, lucerne leaf roller, whitefringed weevil.|
|Main diseases||Phytophthora root rot, anthracnose, common crown rot, Stemphyllium leaf spot, leaf rust, pepper spot, common leaf spot.|
|Management||Rotational grazing important. Ideally spell before cutting or grazing until 10% of stems commence flowering, or crown shoots are 12 cm long on 50% of plants. Avoid cutting or grazing lower than 5 cm. Set stocking at moderate to high stocking rates reduces persistence.|
|Livestock disorders of particular note||Frequently bloat in cattle. Photosensitisation in horses, occasionally red gut in sheep. Infertility in livestock has been associated with ingestion of lucerne leaves stressed by leaf diseases or by insect attack.|
Advice on livestock health disorders was provided by Dr Chris Bourke, Principal Research Scientist, Orange. His contribution is gratefully acknowledged.
Photo: Warren McDonald, Former Technical Specialist (Pastures), NSW Agriculture, Tamworth.