Document Type


Publication Date



alfalfa, seed coating, fungicide seed treatment, diseases

Extension Number

ExEx 8102


Plant Science


Establishing a good stand is an important step in the efficient and profitable production of alfalfa. Site selection, seedbed preparation, seeding method, depth of seeding, and other agronomic factors can affect stand establishment. In some cases, seed and seedling diseases can be a significant problem in alfalfa. Damping-off (caused by Pythium spp. And Phytophthora megasperma) generally is recognized as the primary disease problem affecting alfalfa establishment. Problems due to damping-off can be significant, particularly when alfalfa is planted into poorly drained soils. In addition to site selection, fungicide seed treatment is one way to minimize losses from damping-off. For maximum plant vigor and N-fixing capability, inoculation of alfalfa seed with the appropriate rhizobia bacteria prior to planting is essential. Seed coating is a relatively new development in the alfalfa seed industry. Lime is used as the seed coating base to which rhizobia and possibly fungicide seed treatments are added. Seed coating is intended to increase stand density compared to noncoated seed, but results have been variable.


Updated June 2002.