6 December 1996

Ryegrass optimist

PERENNIAL ryegrass yields have increased by 15% over a 30-year period, according to plant breeder David Johnson of the Northern Ireland Horticulture and Plant Breeding Station, Co Armagh.

"Current breeding work is 10 years away from reaching the market, but it looks as if those increases of 0.5% a year will continue," he said.

Improvements in digestibility, persistency and disease resistance were also likely. And there was also the possibility of new high magnesium ryegrass varieties. These could meet the magnesium needs of grazing stock to prevent the current subclinical deficiencies that were reducing animals performance, he claimed.