NM Scientists Develop Drought-Tolerant Alfalfa

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Scientists in New Mexico are working to develop more drought-tolerant varieties of alfalfa.

A breakthrough would be welcome news to farmers and ranchers who are paying up to twice as much for hay now as they did a year ago.

Hay, including alfalfa, has been in short supply because of a drought in the Southwest.

New Mexico State University professor Ian Ray says two-thirds of hay produced in the U.S. is grown in drought-prone areas of the Great Plains or the western U.S.

Ray and his team have identified a series of DNA markers on alfalfa chromosomes that they believe play a key role in producing more alfalfa with less water.

They are now working to breed those characteristics into alfalfa cultivars typically grown in New Mexico.