Roundup Ready alfalfa is approved

Planting Roundup Ready alfalfa can be one of the tools in controlling heavy weed invasion in pure stands of alfalfa and farmers can plant it this spring

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.  

Alfalfa is the major legume forage crop in the Midwest United States and is produced for on-farm dairy and livestock feed and as a cash crop. There are 1.2 million acres of alfalfa fields in the state of Michigan.

Roundup Ready alfalfa varieties offer a new option for weed removal during stand establishment and in established stands. Weed management systems that use glyphosate as the main method of weed control could have potential benefits not previously observed with traditional practices. It took almost four years to get the final approval for planting Roundup Ready alfalfa (RRA) by the U.S Department of Agriculture in late January, after several rounds of regulation, deregulation, and re-regulation without conditions. Over the past several years, lots of debates took place regarding concerns of potential gene flow into conventional alfalfa fields and adverse effects on plants and animals including threatened or endangered species. With the USDA’s approval and announcement, farmers can plant RRA starting this spring.

Planting RRA can be one of the tools for controlling heavy weed invasions that happen in typical alfalfa fields by using less herbicide, possibly resulting in less environmental impact. RRA can kill grass if planted with grass in binary mixtures so RRA should be planted as pure stands rather than alfalfa-grass mixtures.

Electronic copy of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on Roundup Ready Alfalfa has been published and can be found at www.aphis.usda.gov/biotechnology/downloads/alfalfa/gt_alfalfa%20_feis.pdf

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