Page 1 of 3
Regions characterised by warm sunny summers with little or no summer rain are ideal for production of lucerne seed.
Such a climate encourages the flowering of lucerne and provides favourable conditions for bee pollination and ripening of the seed, which must occur under dry conditions to prevent it becoming discoloured.
Successful lucerne seed production is influenced by the following factors, among others:
With the exception of weather conditions, the producer has a reasonable degree of control over factors influencing seed production.
In South Africa most lucerne seed is produced in the lower Orange River, Little Karoo and Calvinia districts.
Producers of certified seed must register with the Directorate Plant and Quality Control (Dept Agric) according to the Plant Improvement Act.
Information about this matter will be provided by the company with which you sign a contract.
Choice of soil and preparation for seed production
Well-drained soil with few soluble salts and the potential for roots to grow to 1.5 m or more, is ideal for production of lucerne seed under irrigation.
Deep clay soil, clayey loam or sandy clay soil with a high water retention capacity is preferable to sandy soil.
Soil with hard stony layers or shallow clay layers near the surface should be avoided.
Uniform soil texture will reduce the differences in development between plants.
Problems with weeds and the cost of combating them can be reduced by well-planned rotation systems and cultivation.
Land infested with perennial grass weeds such as Bermuda grass/kweek (Cynodon dactylon), Johnson grass (Sorghum sp.), etc., should be avoided, or else the weeds brought under control before sowing time.
In most lucerne seed producing areas, lucerne is sown in the autumn. This gives the maximum seed yield in the first year of production.
Everywhere in the world lucerne planted for seed is sown in rows, as this gives the highest seed production. The low seed production in dense stands can be partially attributed to low production of
Other advantages for row sowing are:
The following spacing is recommended for single rows: