Try some rye for a bit of extra bite
LIVESTOCK producers seeking an early bite next spring could consider sowing or strip-seeding rye or Italian ryegrass.
Peter Hunter of seed firm Hunters of Chester says that in most areas rye or Italian ryegrass can be sown in October to produce herbage for grazing or zero-grazing in early spring, or the Italian could provide late autumn grazing.
Strip-seeding into permanent pasture gives the extra advantage of a firm base that is less likely to poach than a ploughed field.
With strip-seeding, Mr Hunter suggests sowing 124kg/ha (50kg/acre) of rye through the fertiliser side of the strip-seeder, and 15kg/ha (6kg/acre) of Italian ryegrass through the seed side. The Italian offers a valuable follow-up crop when the rye has been eaten.
However, producers strip-seeding to secure an early spring bite should watch out for slug damage.
"Despite the dry summer, slug numbers could still be high enough to pose a threat," says Dr Andy Evans, zoologist at the Scottish Agricultural College. He advises test baiting by placing a teaspoon of methiocarb pellets under a large tile. "Four to five dead slugs under the tile after three days and it will be worth putting down pellets.
"Broadcast the treatment or put the pellets in with the seed at drilling," he says. *