17 May 2002

New varieties pave the way forward

CONTINUING advances in breeding were reflected in the updated NIAB herbage list with one new hybrid ryegrass and one white clover setting new standards.

This confirms the value of new varieties as breeders offer advances in yield, quality and disease resistance, says NIAB grass specialist Steven Bentley. "Out of the six new additions, hybrid ryegrass AberEcho is of particular interest."

It yields 5% more than other hybrids, equalling the better Italian varieties without compromising quality, disease resistance or ground cover. Another hybrid ryegrass added to the list, Drumlin, has top resistance to mildew, Rhynchosporium and ryegrass mosaic virus, says Mr Bentley.

Producers facing higher risks of crown rust now have a greater choice with the addition of Eurostar. For those seeking yield benefits, Limeta was the highest yielding Italian ryegrass variety in its second year, achieving 11% more than the control variety Atalja.

"Similarly, specialist Italian ryegrass Edison has the highest first cut silage yield of all the Italian and hybrids." But Mr Bentley believes its poorer resistance to mosaic virus and low second cut digestibility makes it less suitable for longer-term leys.

Another advance is the new white clover Crusader, which is a medium-small leafed variety with exceptional yields and ground cover (see p48). The NIAB list also saw 17 varieties falling to the becoming outclassed category, as newer varieties supersede them. &#42