Fructan is an organic compound produced in grass during photosynthesis, among other processes. The amount of fructan in fresh/harvested grass is particularly important for horse breeding. An excess of fructan can cause horses to suffer from laminitis.
Fructan, a water-soluble carbohydrate, is produced during photosynthesis. Long chains of fructose with glucose molecules combine to form fructan (polysaccharide). Grass uses fructane as a fuel so that other substances can be produced in order to grow.
The production of fructan is influenced by the following factors:
- Sunlight: Since fructan is produced by photosynthesis, sunlight is important. When there is more sunshine, more photosynthesis takes place and this results in more fructans.
- Temperature: Grass starts to grow slowly at a (soil) temperature of ± 5 degrees Celsius. As soon as it gets colder than this, the grass stores its fructan for later use, when the conditions are right for grass to grow again. When the temperature is above 15 degrees for an entire day, there is little fructan in the grass (provided the other conditions are right).
- Crop stage: Since fructan is a nutrient, just like protein and other sugars, the crop stage is also important. As soon as grass gets older and shoots seed, the grass will become woody. The proportion of cell walls will increase and, in turn, the proportion of fructan and protein will decrease.
- Moisture content and nutrients in the soil: Like all crops, grass needs water to extract nutrients from the soil. When this water is no longer available, the grass cannot grow and therefore cannot lose its fructose. Conversely, there may be enough water but not enough nutrients; especially when there is a shortage of potassium, grass growth stagnates. In both cases, fructan will accumulate in the plant.
Growing conditions and fructan
During spring, conditions are favourable for the production of fructan, thanks to low night temperatures, sufficient nutrients and water, and plenty of sunlight. These conditions are also often present in the autumn. Therefore, grass often contains more fructan in spring and autumn than in summer. With Equi Feed, the fructan content in your grass can be measured.