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Published
1 .Dec.2017

DLF Alfalfa – timing of harvest and digestibility

Optimal timing of alfalfa harvest provides optimal forage quality and more profitable farming.

One overall aim for breeding programs in DLF is breeding for digestibility. Not only has successful breeding been done in grasses but breeding for high digestibility has also been achieved in DLF Alfalfa varieties – and the aim is maintained for many new varieties to come.

Highly digestible forage – Digestible cell walls
When producing hay and silage for forage one might become familiar with the meaning and importance of high digestible cell walls. It is one of the most important key factors when producing high quality forage for ruminants and a factor limiting the intake and utilization of forage by ruminants. Increasing the amount of digestible cell walls will evidently result in increased intake and utilization of forage, which will result in an increase output either as milk or as meat, hence a better profitability.

High digestible cell walls in DLF breeding programs
Knowing when the plant have the highest level of digestible cell walls is very important for getting the perfect quality and time of harvest. It would not only be an important part in harvest decisions tools but also indicate and provide basis for storing forage by quality.

Used often for prediction of high digestible cell walls are standard laboratory tests. It is an accurate method but often not rapid enough to be useful as a fast decision tool. Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) done in field is also a possibility. DLF performs in field app. 400.000 NIRS scans per year and these scans will be calibrated with laboratory analysis of app. 4,000 analysis. DLF uses both systems to estimate the quality of DLF Alfalfa and much breeding evolves around these data to give the most digestible varieties.

PEAQ Method
There are methods that can predict the amount of high digestible cell walls in the field for example the (PEAQ) tested in Poland. Stems are clipped from an area of 0.1-0.15 m2. The longest stem from each sample is measured and the most mature stem is given the appropriate maturity rating with 2 for vegetative, 3.5 when at least one visible flower bud, and 5.5 for at least one open flower. The model is somewhat accurate but also time consuming.

By growing DLF Alfalfa you will not only be able to achieve high digestibility and protein, but we have also saved you for doing much manual work in field testing you crops for its high digestible cell walls.

Further information
If you want to know more about DLF Alfalfa and suitable varieties for your climate and conditions do not hesitate to contact your local supplier of seeds from DLF.