Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School



Alfalfa is one of the most important crops grown in South Dakota. In recent years alfalfa acreages have been exceeded only by those of corn, oats, and wild hay. In this state, the alfalfa acreages has increased from 385,000 acres in 1946 to 2.3 million acres in 1958, an increase of nearly 500 per cent. In South Dakota, alfalfa is primarily grown for hay production in support of the livestock industry, which accounts for a major portion of the state’s farm income, Although only a small percentage of the total alfalfa acreage in South Dakota is harvested for seed, this state is a leading state in alfalfa seed production, ranking sixth in the nation in 1958. Approximately two per cent of the total alfalfa acreage harvested for seed in South Dakota during recent years has produced certified seed. The other 98 per cent has produced uncertified seed, commonly referred to as “Northern” alfalfa seed. Northern alfalfa is winter hardy and has been quite well adapted to the northern areas of the United States. Until 1952, uncertified Northern alfalfa seed found a ready market in areas were winter hardiness is necessary. Since that time the demand for this seed has declined markedly. Prices paid to South Dakota producers have declined from 51 cents per pound in 1951 to 23.5 cents per pound in 1958 (Figure 1). In turn, South Dakota’s cash farm income from alfalfa seed has declined greatly. Several factors have contributed to the decline in the market for Northern alfalfa seed. One major contributing factor has been the development of new improved varieties of alfalfa seed such as “Ranger” and “Vernal”. When these varieties were released they were in short supply and it was necessary to increase the amount available to growers. It was found possible to obtain much more rapid increases under the nearly optimum conditions to be found in the southwestern portion of the Unites States. As a result, an important specialized alfalfa seed industry was developed in California. Whereas California produced only 4.5 million pounds of alfalfa seed in 1948, its production had increased to 84.6 million pounds in 1957, which was 53.1 per cent of all alfalfa seed produced in the Unites States that year. Approximately three-fourths of the total alfalfa seeds acreage in California in recent years has been certified and has been producing large amounts of the new winter hardy varieties. Through vertical integration, California has been able to place on the market a continuous supply of winter-hardy certified seed. This seed has been advertised by use of well organized sales promotion techniques. In order to make the comparisons between the alternative types of production practices and returns from alfalfa seed producers. Through personal interview, growers were contacted in two of the leading alfalfa seed producing counties in South Dakota. The counties selected for this study were Tripp and Brown. A sample of 20 to 30 seed growers was selected for interviewing in each county. The sample included as nearly as was feasible, all of the growers who produced seed consistently year after year.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Alfalfa -- Seeds -- South Dakota


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University