The experiment was conducted at Raya Azebo district, which is located in Southern Tigray, North Ethiopia, with the objective to investigate the highest dry matter yield and herbage nutritive value among the selected alfalfa cultivars. The experiment was conducted by randomized complete block design with four replications and five cultivars. The experimental cultivars were FG-10-09 (F), FG-9-09 (F), Magna-801-FG (F), Magna-788 and Hairy Peruvian. Harvesting cutting intervals was taken at an average of 57.78±4.78 days of mid flowering at irrigation land. A total of 4 cutting cycles were taken from January 2016 to August 2016. The result of the study showed that dry matter (DM), organic matter (OM), crude protein (CP), neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and in vitro dry matter digestibility (IVDMD) was comparable across the five cultivars. Stand height was significant different (P<0.001) among the cultivars. Alfalfa cultivars FG-10-09(F), FG-9-09(F), Magna-788 and Hairy Peruvian had significantly (P<0.001) higher plant height as compared to Magna-801-FG (F). However, DM yield and leaf to steam ratio (LTSR) was not affected by cultivars (P>0.05). Cutting cycle significantly affected stand height, DM yield and LTSR. Plant height and DM yield were significantly different (P<0.001) among the cultivars across the cutting cycle. Cutting cycles 2, 3 and 4 had the highest stand height and DM yield as compared to cutting cycle 1 (P<0.001). But, cutting cycles 2 and 1 were significantly higher in LTSR as compared to 3 and 4 (P<0.001). Therefore, it can be conclude that all the cultivars evaluated had not shown significant difference in DMY and nutritive content, but Hairy Peruvian had relatively good DM yield and higher stand height, as a result, it is good to promote Hairy Peruvian cultivar for further demonstration and seed production.
Key words: Alfalfa, dry matter yield, nutritive content, cutting cycle, leaf to stem ratio.
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