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Reduced-lignin alfalfa varieties

Alfalfa is widely used as forage for livestock due to its high nutrient content. However, the crop’s lignin content hampers animals’ ability to digest and use alfalfa.

Fortunately, relatively new alfalfa varieties with reduced-lignin concentrations have the potential to increase the feeding value of alfalfa and widen the optimal harvest window.

Understanding reduced-lignin alfalfa varieties

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Advantages of reduced-lignin varieties

Using reduced-lignin alfalfa varieties has the potential to be very advantageous to growers.

Its improved forage nutritive value may lengthen the time period when alfalfa is best suited for high-producing livestock. This could widen the optimal harvest window, making it possible for alfalfa producers to delay harvest and achieve greater yields while still maintaining a high forage nutritive value.

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Research: Yield and quality of reduced-lignin alfalfa

To evaluate the yield and forage nutritive value of reduced-lignin alfalfa, researchers conducted a study that subjected reduced-lignin and reference alfalfa varieties to diverse cutting treatments during the first production year.

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Amanda M. Grev, graduate student; M. Scott Wells, Extension agronomist; Krishona L. Martinson, Extension equine specialist; Deborah A. Samac, plant pathologist, U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service; Craig C. Sheaffer, agronomist, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and Dan Undersander, Extension agronomist, University of Wisconsin

Reviewed in 2018

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