By Jonathan Long

SPRING-SOWN whole-crop silage is a popular option for many livestock units, with lower fungicide inputs and the option to plough up winter grazing fields for whole-crop or sowing a catch crop.

Results from NIAB trials show spring wheat has the best potential for high whole-crop yields, with average dry matter (DM) yields of 11.17t/ha and average dry matter (DM) content of 38.84%.

The highest yielding wheat variety in the study was Paragon, with a DM yield of 11.6t/ha, while the lowest yielders were Belvoir and Byron which both yielded 10.7t/ha. However, on the DM front Paragon only managed fourth spot with a DM content of 37.5%, leader on the DM content front was Morph with a DM of 41.3%, says NIAB researcher Don Pendergrast. Overall, Morph was the more consistent performer, with a DM yield of 11.5t/ha and an energy yield of 113,000MJ/ha. For those producers looking for an alternative to wheat, oats look promising, with average DM yields of 8.7t/ha and DM of 39.43%. “Leading the way in oats was Banquo, with a DM yield of 9.1t/ha, but this had the lowest DM% of all the varieties trialled, at 37.9%. Banquo had an energy yield of 82,000MJ/ha. More consistent was Firth, with a DM yield of 8.9t/ha and a DM content of 40%, this had an energy yield of 81,000MJ/ha,” reports Mr Pendergrast.

Poorest yielding of all the spring-sown crops were the barleys, with an average DM yield of 7.4t/ha. The barleys trialled had an average DM percentage of 39.2%.

Heading up the barley trial was Doyen, with a DM yield of 8t/ha and a DM percentage of 39.7%, this variety also led the way in the energy stakes, with an energy yield of 85,000 MJ/ha.

“Rebekah also performed well, yielding a DM percentage of 38.3% at 7.6t/ha, this was closely followed by Tocada with a yield of 7.4t/ha at 39.9%DM and an energy yield of 77,000MJ/ha,” he says.

Triticale fared well in the trials, yielding an average of 7.6t/ha at a DM content of 36.1%. Top spot in the triticale study went to Legalo, this yielded 8.2t/ha, at a DM content of 36.4% and an energy yield of 75,000MJ/ha.

“The remaining three triticale varieties, Nilex, Logo and Cume, all yielded relatively similarly, with Nilex yielding 7.3t/ha and the other two yielding 7.4t/ha. Energy yields were also similar ranging from 67,000 to 70,000MJ/ha,” adds Mr Pendergrast.

SPRING WHOLE-CROP * Wheat best yielder * Oats an option * Triticale yielded well