Falcata Alfalfa AKA Yellow Flower Alfalfa

Falcata alfalfa, also known as Yellow Flower Alfalfa or simply “Falcata” (Medicago sativa ssp. falcata) is a subspecies of alfalfa (Medicago sativa) that demonstrates superior drought resistance over alfalfa. Falcata offers great promise by introducing a drought tolerant, nitrogen-fixing legume to the rangelands of the US. It is also winter-hardy and tolerates pH up to 8.5. In Siberia where Falcata originated, it naturally occurs in areas of 10-16 inches of annual precipitation. 

While other alfalfa varieties have met with poor establishment success on rangelands, falcata alfalfa readily establishes in native rangelands. It is persistent in harsh, competitive grazing applications on semiarid rangelands and irrigated pastures. Significantly more persistent in grazing applications than purple-flowered alfalfas. Falcata longevityis a result of its fibrous roots which compete well for limited soil moisture, and its deeply set crown and buds. The fibrous, creeping root mass of Falcata alfalfa may also help defend against invasion by weedy annual bromes such as cheatgrass, Bromus tectorum. Enters complete dormancy when water is limited for extended periods and regrow when moisture returns. Falcata can be described as a spreading plant. Plants compete well with most native western grasses but may struggle against smooth brome. Falcata should not be grazed until the second year.

Falcata alfalfa will not dominate in mixed plantings with grasses. It’s low growth form stays well below the canopy of most grasses.

Farmers and ranchers can expect increased forage production and increased forage quality when it is interseeded into rangeland.  Evaluations have shown that interseedings have increased forage production from 42-143%. Large part of the country is well-suited to falcata alfalfa.