A number of varieties of commercially available summer annual grasses (including sudangrass, sorghum-sudangrass hybrids and pearl millet) contain what is referred to as a brown midrib or “BMR” gene. In addition to making the midrib brown instead of white, plants having this gene are more digestible than non-BMR plants. This is because these plants produce less lignin, which is not digestible. The result is that animal performance is improved. Whether or not a summer annual grass is a BMR type is an important consideration for these grasses. In addition, in recent years, reduced-lignin alfalfa varieties have become commercially available. This is not a midrib phenomenon, but is consistent with the idea that reducing lignin improves plant digestibility. Forage-Livestock Quotes and Concepts, Vol. 2 is available online at foragequotebook.com.
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