A study of the influence of management practices of alfalfa seed production in Manitoba

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Plews, Kenneth W.
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Alfalfa seed production in Canada has been highly variable over the past two decades. Seed production has decreased from a high of 13.5 million pounds in 1952 to a low of just over l.0 million pounds in 1969. The three prairie provinces have accounted for over 80 percent of the alfalfa seed produced in Canada. Of this the province of Manitoba produced approximateLy 23 percent, (through personal communication with K. D. Russell, Lethbridge L973). Canada imported from 3 - 7 million pounds of alfalfa seed annually throughout the 1956-72 period and though seed production has been on a downward trend, seed use has been increasing. For these reasons attempts are being made to increase alfalfa seed production in Canada in general and in the province of Manitoba in particular. The importation of the alfalfa leaf-cutter bee Megachile rotundata F. into Alberta and Saskatchewan has resulted in a revival of the alfalfa seed industry In these regions during the past several years (Heinrichs (23)). Hobbs (25) has stated that this bee was most useful in areas in Western Canada where there was 350 or more daylight hours with temperatures above 69 F. during the pollinating period of alfalfa. Hobbs has also pointed out that these requirements are met in southern Manitoba. Little information is available in Manitoba on the management of the alfalfa seed crop itself. This study was set up to investigate some of the management problems confronting the Manitoba grower. The main question has been to what extent low seed yields were attributable to climate or to other factors. This study was concerned with the effects of planting densities as well as pre-cutting in spring on alfalfa seed yields. Data was collected on flower initiation dates, the length of the blooming period, pollen and nectar production....