It is probably not a big surprise that the relative feed values are lower than hoped on the first crop this year. The stuff grew so darn fast! When it grows fast, it tends to put on more stem than leaves, lowering the feed value.
The good news is that this year’s first crop is “feeding out” better than expected. Last year, if you had 140 RFV alfalfa or alfalfa grass, it “fed out” like it had tested 20 points lower. This year, 140 RFV is “feeding out” like 140 RFV.
A possible reason for this is that last year, we had a cloudy, rainy spring. The alfalfa plant stores carbohydrates in it’s root system and crown to start the plant out in the spring, but then is reliant on the sun and photosynthesis to develop carbohydrates in the plant. In other words, the carbohydrates were lower in the plants last year at harvest. This year, we’ve had plenty of sun during the growing season so the carbs are normal.
Most energy values on your forage test are calculations based off the fiber level. Some day, we’ll have a better way to quickly determine exact energy values from the forage-for now, the process is slow and costly.
In the meantime, enjoy this year’s crop!