Lucerne Variety Trial – Assess optimum plant stress levels for seed production

Lucerne Australia Inc.

  • Project code: PRJ-010959

  • Project stage: Current

  • Project start date: Monday, May 7, 2018

  • Project completion date: Friday, September 29, 2023

  • National Priority: PSE-Production and processing efficiency and profitability


Lucerne has been an important pasture species in Australia for over 40 years, and the cornerstone of the industry has been innovation through development and release of new varieties. The environment ensures that the 250 growers who grow lucerne for seed production can produce low dormancy to highly winter-active varieties. In Australia, a mix of Australian bred and imported varieties are grown but increasingly, US bred varieties are being introduced under seed multiplication contracts. Due to the nature of seed production it is an expensive and long-term process for individual growers to undertake lucerne variety research independently.
Before committing to a new variety, seed growers consistently request variety trial data from within Australian conditions. Results from a previous variety trial (RIRDC PRJ-005348) and anecdotal evidence suggest that in recent years, imported genetics have struggled to produce consistent seed yield in Australian conditions.
According to the ASF seed database, more than 50 lucerne varieties marketed in Australia in 2015, most in the 8–11 dormancy range. This project will generate and communicate independent seed and herbage data of newer proprietary lucerne varieties.
The final output of data will demonstrate which varieties perform better under a higher rate of moisture stress, giving growers guidance on which varieties to use high in stress watering systems.


Pasture Seeds

Research Organisation

Lucerne Australia Inc.

Objective Summary

This project will generate and communicate independent data of the value of newer proprietary lucerne varieties grown in Australian conditions. The outcome will be a final output of data which will demonstrate which varieties perform better under a higher rate of moisture stress, giving growers guidance on which varieties to use in high stress watering systems.
Project objectives include:

  • Measure herbage yield of 24 lucerne varieties.
  • Measure seed yield of 24 lucerne varieties.
  • Compare 24 varieties under modified irrigation management systems, specifically for seed yield data.
  • Evaluate the effect varying irrigation management will have with gross margin analysis.
  • Evaluate the effect of controlled water stress on seed yield over a range of seasonal conditions
  • Investigate the potential drivers of seed yield differences in a sub-set of 5 selected lucerne varieties under modified irrigation management systems
  • Develop tools to inform and support advisor and grower adoption of modified water management strategies to optimise lucerne seed production.

This project aligns with three out of four of the objectives in the Pasture Seeds R&D Program Five Year R&D Plan 2013-2018, specifically: Objective 1: Focus on growth of domestic and export pasture seeds markets. This project will assist to grow the domestic market by communicating research data that establishes the benefits of growing temperate legumes from both Australian and US bred varieties. Objective 3: Production and processing efficiency and improved sustainability. This project will increase profitability of pasture seed production, decrease risk and improve environmental sustainability by providing new varieties, agronomic recommendations, sustainability measures regarding water use and production and processing best practices. Objective 4: Improved industry knowledge with data, extension and communication. This project will improve industry knowledge through the provision of accurate data, the identification of key industry influence agents and delivery of extension through communications. This project will ensure that the Australian lucerne seed industry can create an environment with comprehensive engagement between supply chain participants for the purpose of building a sustainable and profitable industry for all.