ALFALFA, also called LUCERNE (q.v.) (Medicago saliva), is a herbaceous plant be longing to the family Fabaceee. The leaves are pinnate-trifoliate; its flowers small, gener ally purple in color, dense in spikes. The plant is a native of Asia, but has been cultivated in Europe since before the time of Christ. The Spaniards introduced it into South America, but it did not reach North America until some time between 1850 and 1860, when it was intro duced into California. Since then it has become the most extensively cultivated forage crop in the United States. Its adaptability to varying conditions of soil and climate gives it an exten sive range, extending from the arid lands of the West, where irrigation is required, to the richer soils of the East, and from sea-level to heights of over 7,000 feet. It will not flourish in extremely damp or clayey soils. Its roots strike to great depths, so that it withstands droughts better than most of the forage plants. It is cut when coming into bloom, and yields from three to 12 tons of hay to each acre. In some regions it is cut every month in the year. It is particularly valuable as a green manure, as it takes nitrogen from the air, and its deep growing roots draw from the lower soils large quantities of lime, phosphoric acid, potash and other minerals useful as crop foods. Alfalfa is relished by cattle whether green, as hay, or as ensilage, but to secure the best results it should be fed with root crops and grain, which add the ingredients needed for a well-balanced ration. Alfalfa is subiect to two fungus dis
eases, one on the leaf and another on the root, either of which, if not checked, will spread and ultimately ruin the field. It is also attacked by certain insects. The Farmers' Bulletins issued by the United States Department of Agriculture and the bulletins of the various State agricultural experiment stations give full information on the culture of the plant and the treatment of its diseases.
The importance of the alfalfa industry in the United States is indicated by the fact that the area devoted to alfalfa in 1909 was approxi mately 4,638,662 acres. In the same year ap proximately 15,829,680 pounds of seed were harvested and about 11,800,000 tons of hay pro duced . Consult Westgate, J. M ,