Lignin is the complex organic compound that binds to the cellulose fiber and hardens and strengthens the cell walls of plants. In mature plant tissue lignin increases yield, but negatively affects forage quality and interferes with animal digestion. To minimize this yield versus quality dilemma, producers have traditionally harvested at the late bud stage or by one-tenth bloom to reach a compromise of yield and quality.
Through conventional plant breeding, Alforex Seeds has addressed this conflict with Hi-Gest Alfalfa varieties that provide a significant reduction in plant lignin and improve fiber digestibility. The varieties trace to natural genetic variations within the Alforex germplasm collection that were identified by aggressive screening for low lignin as well as sound agronomic technology. The commercial Hi-Gest Alfalfa varieties for 2015 planting are estimated to have a 7-10% lignin reduction depending on the harvest maturity stage, management practices and variety.