Ten new varieties, including a festulolium, have made it onto the 2011 Recommended List of Grass and Clover for England and Wales (RGCL).

To join the list, the six new perennial ryegrass varieties, two hybrid ryegrasses – including the festulolium – and two white clovers, have proven their value as an overall improvement on the existing recommended varieties, explains NIAB-TAG forage manager Don Pendergrast.

“Setting this standard ensures breeders have to continually improve the varieties coming forward. Varieties are rigorously tested across a range of characters, including yield and quality under grazing and conservation management, persistency and disease resistance.

“It’s estimated that only the top 5% of varieties bred actually make it to full recommendation, so growers really do get the cream of the crop,” says Dr Pendergrast.

There are a number of new varieties to watch out for this year with interesting characteristics that may benefit growers. For example, there are an increasing number of varieties offering potential yield in the late season.

However, BGS Society director Jessica Buss reminds farmers that to ensure they benefit from these highest quality varieties, they should use a merchant who pays grass seed levy. “These merchants are able to use information from the independent testing scheme – which is not made public – such as persistence scores, to develop mixtures which really will deliver the required the results. Look for the green hills of the herbage varieties guide logo or NIAB-TAG logo on their brochures and bags,” she advises.

Livestock table

A list of levy-paying merchants is available in the 2011 RGCL farmer booklet launched this week. Copies will be available at the Grassland and Muck Event, as well as other events from BGS, EBLEX, DairyCo, plant breeding company and levy paying merchants’ stands. Or you can download a copy from www.britishgrassland.com or contact BGS on 02476 696600 or email office@britishgrassland.com The booklet also includes useful advice on reseeding and choosing the right grasses. Scotland and Northern Ireland produce their own recommended lists via SAC or DARD, respectively.