In anticipation of a broad commercial launch of HarvXtra® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology, W-L Alfalfas has released WL 341HVX.RR, due for 2017 planting. This is our first varietal release of “new generation” products that combine the HarvXtra reduced lignin trait with Roundup Ready Technology. This new variety release follows the initial offering of WL 301HVX.RR Brand, sold in 2016.
WL 341HVX.RR contains at least 15% less lignin, as ADL (acid detergent lignin) compared to competitive check varieties. Growers have the option of maintaining current harvest schedules after realizing at least a 15% increase in relative forage quality (RFQ) and fiber digestibility measured as neutral detergent fiber digestibility (NDFD), over competitive checks (see table). This offers growers tremendous value, as does the flexibility to delay cutting as many as 7-10 days and not sacrifice fiber digestibility and RFQ compared to conventional alfalfas at the same stage of maturity.
WL 341HVX.RR is a fall dormancy 4.0, winterhardiness 2.1, with a 30/30 disease resistance index (DRI) package combining best-in-class multiple pest resistance, standability, fast recovery after cutting, and quick establishment powered by W-L’s Gold Treatment PLUS seed treatment containing Stamina®. Whether you’re a dairy producer, cash hay grower, beef, or equine, WL 341HVX.RR offers tremendous value that will truly deliver with the flexibility of delaying harvest or increasing feed value of alfalfa.
WL 341HVX.RR follows a long-line of highly sought after technologies from W-L. From HQ™ High Quality varieties like WL 354HQ and WL 365HQ, to Roundup Ready® products like WL 372HQ.RR and WL 356HQ.RR, to the HopperShield potato-leafhopper resistant varieties of WL 358LH and WL 359LH.RR, to multiple pest resistant types and more, W-L’s latest release of HarvXtra™ Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology offers growers an exciting, high value product.
HarvXtra™ Alfalfa Forage Nutrition
The core of WL 341HVX.RR value lies in its flexibility. Simply put, many of today’s alfalfa products have moved the bar over time on yield, but very little when it comes to key forage quality metrics like NDFD and RFQ. WL 341HVX.RR significantly changes the yield/quality relationship in ways not possible with conventional breeding. However, traditional estimates of forage quality, like relative feed value (RFV) or total digestible nutrients (TDN) will not adequately measure the value that improved fiber digestibility has in forages like HarvXtra™ Alfalfa, effecting both the feeder and the seller. RFV does not accurately reflect differences in forage quality because it doesn’t account for fiber digestibility. RFV will not represent the improvement in digestibility of higher digestible forages. TDN accounts for fiber digestibility, but only as one of four digestibility values taken into account into the TDN value.
So what is the best index to look at to correctly value higher quality forages like that of WL 341HVX.RR? RFQ better reflects differences in forage quality and thus performance expected from cattle fed these forages because RFQ takes into account and correctly weighs total fiber digestibility. So does this mean cows fed forages of higher RFQ, and NDFD will produce more milk? Higher NDFD forages contain only slightly more available energy which potentially can lead to modest production gains.
The greatest potential milk production increase, from forages with higher NDFD, is from an improvement in ration intake. Higher NDFD forage are “less filling” and thus have lower rumen fill. In high forage diets or in substitution for forages of poor quality, feeding forages of higher NDFD can increase intake. Resulting milk production responses are directly related to intake improvement.
With that said, some Michigan State data (Oba and Allen, 1999) that showed every one-unit increase in in vitro digestibility of NDF was associated with a 0.37 lb./day increase in dry matter intake (DMI) and a 0.55 lb./day increase in 4% fat-corrected milk yield per cow. This is just another reason dairymen, nutritionists and dairy consultants across the country are as excited as we are about WL 341HVX.RR HarvXtra Alfalfa.
WL 341HVX.RR Value
The above outlines the potential value of WL 341HVX.RR fed on farm, but what about growers looking to maximize yield, delay repeat harvests, and perhaps go from a 4-cut system to 3-cut? Or, what about growers that look solely to realizing the quality bump keeping their same cutting schedule?
First, let’s list a few conservative parameters:
Seeding Rate (acres per unit) ....................... 3
Normal Yield Per Acre (tons) ........................ 5
Current Avg Hay Price ($/ton) ................. $150
Normal Life of Stand (years) ......................... 4
Current Relative Forage Quality (RFQ) ..... 150
Cost to Harvest One Cutting ($/ac.) .......... $50
Then, let’s look closer at the yield component. In delaying cutting, accumulating more dry matter, realizing harvest cost savings and the same quality as comparable varieties cut 7-10 days beforehand, simply increasing yield a modest 10% results in a $1,799.01 value per unit ($599.67 per acre) compared to conventional varieties. This is without inserting value for flexibility or for probable stand persistence by cutting fewer times. This is also net current trait technology fee, with benefits of the Roundup Ready Technology system.
So what about value for the grower looking to maximize the quality attributes of WL 341HVX.RR? Using the same parameters above, inserting a conservative 15% increase in improved quality (RFQ), not realizing any benefit from added flexibility, but adding in the Roundup Ready Technology system benefits and included the HarvXtra™ trait technology fee, total value per unit is net $1,649.01 ($549.67 per acre) compared to conventional varieties.
Needless to say, even with conservative parameters, calculating grower value of WL 341HVX.RR doesn’t take long to get to a sizable value.
Common Questions on HarvXtra Alfalfa
Two of the most common questions asked about HarvXtra Alfalfa are one, “If lignin is reduced, how does the product stand?” and two, “How does it compare to other competitive platforms who claim similar benefits?” To answer question one, simply, WL 341HVX.RR standability matches that of internal and competitive varieties available in the market today.
In answering question two, HarvXtra Alfalfa stands alone in delivering on the multifaceted benefits of quality and flexibility. In 2015, several trials were planted to compare HarvXtra Alfalfa and one or more alfalfa varieties selected for improved quality using conventional breeding techniques. The HarvXtra Alfalfa trait provided a statistically-significant improvement over all competitive varieties for ADL and NDFD at every sampling date (20-37 days) in these trials. Multiple universities* have also drawn very similar results as well. In other words, only by utilizing the biotechnological-derived trait of HarvXtra Alfalfa is the significant improvement in forage quality achieved, thus there are no equals, there are no substitutes.