Growth, freezing tolerance and yield performance of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) cultivars grown under controlled and field conditions in northern latitudes

Mervi Mirjam Seppänen, Ville Alitalo, Hanna Bäckström, Kirsi Mäkiniemi, Venla Susanna Jokela, Luisa Falghera-Winsemann, Hamid Khazaei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) is one of the most popular forage legume crops worldwide. Its cultivation in the boreal and sub-boreal zone is restricted by inadequate winter hardiness, but global warming may increase its adaptability in these latitudes. Here, we examined variation in growth and freezing tolerance of four alfalfa cultivars recommended for the northern temperate climates of Europe (Alexis, Lavo, Live, and Nexus) and two cultivars with adaptation to milder or Mediterranean climates (Rangelander and Hunter River). Two experiments under controlled conditions (growth cessation and cold acclimation experiments) along with a 2-yr field experiment were conducted. Lavo was the most freezing-tolerant cultivar in both the cold acclimation and field experiments. Both Rangelander and Hunter River showed poor freezing tolerance. Lavo responded to decreasing temperatures, unlike the response to shorter day length, by allocating biomass to the roots. In general, better freezing tolerance was associated with high total nonstructural carbohydrate and low starch content. The field experiment results revealed that the more freezing-tolerant cultivars may have some advantages regarding yield, especially in the second year, but the differences between the cultivars were modest.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCanadian Journal of Plant Science
Volume98
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1109-1118
Number of pages10
ISSN0008-4220
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 4111 Agronomy
  • 1183 Plant biology, microbiology, virology
  • lucerne
  • freezing tolerance
  • winter hardiness
  • growth
  • cold acclimation
  • FALL-DORMANCY
  • WINTER HARDINESS
  • GENE-EXPRESSION
  • ROOT PHYSIOLOGY
  • PHOTOPERIOD
  • TIMOTHY
  • INJURY
  • VERNALIZATION
  • ACCLIMATION
  • VARIETIES

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