New product enhances digestibility, weed control
Alfalfa producers who have longed for a more flexible harvest schedule and enhanced forage quality won’t have to wait much longer, as W-L Alfalfas has released a new HarvXtra® alfalfa variety (FD4) in time for spring planting.
This alfalfa product is one of the first in the Intermountain region to carry the HarvXtra® trait – a breakthrough in technology that changes the process in which alfalfa plants produce lignin, which is indigestible and binds with other cell wall components to limit their digestibility.
HarvXtra® alfalfa isn’t just an incremental improvement in reducing lignin – it’s a big step forward. FGI research shows that the reduced lignin content of HarvXtra® alfalfa averages 17 percent lower than a competitor and two other varieties.
By reducing lignin content and composition, HarvXtra® alfalfa technology provides unprecedented flexibility in widening cutting windows – giving growers the option to:
- Maintain their normal harvest schedules and achieve enhanced fiber digestibility and overall feed value, OR
- Delay harvest by 7 to 10 days for increased yield potential, without sacrificing forage quality compared to conventional alfalfa at the same stage of maturity.
Increasing forage yield potential isn’t the only advantage to delaying harvests. This can also reduce the number of cuttings made over the course of the growing season, which can lower harvest costs. It also decreases the amount of stress alfalfa stands are exposed to, which helps maintain good plant health, and perhaps lead to greater persistence.
But farmers who prefer to harvest on a normal schedule also benefit from the wider cutting window, as harvests delayed by poor weather can really impact the forage quality of conventional alfalfa.
The advantages don’t end with the grower, of course, as higher quality forage benefits both dairy farmers and beef producers alike. Alfalfa becomes a better nutrition source when it’s easier to digest, so producers can increase alfalfa in their herd’s rations.
FGI research shows that the neutral detergent fiber digestibility (NDFD) levels in the WL 341HVX.RR consistently averaged at least 20 percent higher than commercial varieties harvested at the same stage of maturity.
In addition to carrying the HarvXtra® trait, WL 341HVX.RR alfalfa comes with the Genuity® Roundup Ready® weed control system.
Not only are Roundup-ready alfalfa stands easier to establish, but they also provide better forage quality. Farmers will find that simplifying weed management over the life of the stand generally helps maintain stand health.
This new alfalfa also has a seed coating treatment containing Stamina® fungicide. This helps protect against seedling diseases and enhances seedling vigor and establishment, leading to stronger, thicker stands.
Written by Cory Ritz and originally published in the IFA Cooperator magazine (vol. 83, no. 1) Spring 2017. Cory is the IFA Account Manager for Forage Genetics International.
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