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Forage breeding program may have impact on livestock

The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation recently teamed with Forage Genetics International in a joint plant breeding program that has the potential to impact agricultural producers in more than one-third of the continental United States.

“This joint effort will advance the breeding programs of each institution, as well as create new research opportunities for both organizations,” said Mark McCaslin, President of Forage Genetics, which is a subsidiary of the Minnesota-based Land O'Lakes, Inc. “The relationship also models how non-profit and for-profit entities can work hand-in-hand to benefit agricultural producers and agriculture production in our country.”

The new plant breeding program will focus on the development of new cultivated varieties of alfalfa suitable for use in forage and livestock systems in the southeastern portion of the United States from the east coast to Oklahoma and Texas. The improved alfalfa cultivars will have intended uses in both beef production and dairy operations.

As part of the agreement, the Noble Foundation and Forage Genetics will share information from their current alfalfa breeding programs and their respective libraries of elite alfalfa germplasm.

Additionally, the Noble Foundation will evaluate new alfalfa cultivars produced through this program to identify varieties that are well-adapted for the Oklahoma and north Texas region. The Noble Foundation has more than 60 years of experience improving forages, performing plant science and developing advanced production techniques and methodologies for the southern Great Plains.

“This is an exciting partnership that holds a wealth of potential,” said Joe Bouton, Director of the Noble Foundation's Forage Improvement Division. “An advanced alfalfa breeding program is designed to produce stronger varieties of alfalfa with value-added traits, all of which would greatly benefit agriculture producers.

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