The small Wisconsin town of West Salem is home to one of the only companies in the world that focuses solely on forage crops. Forage Genetics International (FGI) is on the leading edge of breeding, developing and producing forage seeds and technology. FGI produces genetics for WinField United’s CROPLAN® seeds and, more specifically, the HarvXtra® alfalfa seed gene.
In early June, 110 producers and agronomists from Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa visited West Salem for the CROPLAN VIP Alfalfa Experience. While visiting FGI, producers had the chance to learn more about seed genetics, forage digestibility, alfalfa management, CROPLAN seed varieties and more.
As a Developmental Services advisor working within the Land O’Lakes Member Relations team, George Droogsma works with Eastern Minnesota dairy members to share information about Land O’Lakes’ full spectrum of products and services. Part of working with the dairy members is understanding the animal nutrition side and the value quality forage brings to dairies. George and other attendees of the CROPLAN VIP Alfalfa Experience got up close and personal with the new seed varieties.
“Producers see firsthand the work FGI is doing,” says George. “The conference gives you a better understanding of all the trials and work that goes into selecting the varieties before they even hit market. It builds your confidence in the product and how well they will perform on your farm. Producers get to see that there are a lot of genetics that get go through initial testing and never make it to market.”
From Rollingstone, Minnesota, member-owner Mark Clark attended the CROPLAN VIP Alfalfa Experience to learn more about the process of genetically engineering alfalfa seeds. After previously learning about genetically engineered corn, Mark was attracted to the event to learn about the differences in engineering processes.
“Genetically modified seeds are really fascinating because I am from the older generation where we didn’t do it that way,” Mark says. “I think that is real interesting how they take cells, pull them apart and put them back together to make the product sturdier.”
While visiting FGI, producers had the opportunity to tour the lab along with hearing from Charlie Rogers about breeding and potato leafhopper resistance and Dr. Andy Mueller from Purina about forage digestibility.
After completing a tour of the lab, producers visited test plots grown by FGI under multiple conditions and in different varieties of soil. Dr. Dan Undersander, Dr. Mark McCaslin, Randy Welch and Dave Witte shared with producers about disease resistant alfalfa, general alfalfa management, current CROPLAN seed varieties and what is next on the alfalfa front from CROPLAN and FGI.
To ease business operations and help farmers produce top quality producers, CROPLAN and FGI work together to produce the best possible seed genetics. HarvXtra® traited alfalfa (HVX MegaTron, HVX HarvaTron, and HVX Driver) provide farmers with flexibility. Farmers can choose to delay harvest 7-10 days to pick up extra yield and keep similar quality or they can cut their HarvXtra® traited alfalfa on their normal cutting schedule to increase the quality of the forage.
The information at the CROPLAN VIP Alfalfa Experience goes far beyond what producers learn while touring the facility. Producers also have the opportunity to speak with each other about their operations and learn from agronomists who attend the event.
“It’s interesting talking to other farmers about how they grow their alfalfa and what they do different,” Mark says. “I talked with some of the agronomists from around the area about how to make the alfalfa work better or learn little hints for planting.”
If you’re interested in learning more about our latest forage offerings or how FGI and CROPLAN products can impact your business, visit Forage Genetics or talk to your local Land O’Lakes staff representative.