Choose right varieties and reap dividends

18 July 1997




Choose right varieties and reap dividends

CHOOSING individual grass varieties for an autumn reseed can manipulate the swards growing season, improving animal performance and profit.

The importance of total annual yield is now well known, but the seasonal growth pattern of ryegrass varieties is often overlooked, despite that information being widely available, says John Weddell, grassland specialist at SAC Aberdeen.

"Few producers know the varieties they are sowing, but should pay attention to the varieties included in mixtures," says Dr Weddell.

Buying on price is a false economy, he adds. "Seed is only 30-40% of the typical £270/ha total reseeding cost of a three to five-year ley."

The difference in seasonal growth is clear in a comparison of the varieties Profit and Veritas. Profit gives 16% more grass at first cut and Veritas 22% more at the smaller second cut. Yet both have similar total annual yield.

Farm requirements and seasonal growth must be taken into account when buying seed, says Dr Weddell.

For instance, when early grazing is needed earlies must be included in the mixture. And in grazing swards, high digestibility is important to ensure good intake and animal performance, but the relationship between D-value and heading date is different for each variety.

These factors must also be considered to select a suitable cutting date for high quality silage, he says.

Farm location should determine the importance of disease resistance and winter hardiness, says Dr Weddell. "Producers should define the limiting factor for their farm, and choose varieties accordingly. This is more important with tetraploid-type ryegrasses than more hardy diploids."

He warns that there are differences in variety performance between grazing and conservation yields.

"When a reseed is specifically for either cutting or grazing it is possible to select varieties that are strong under that management."

Jumbo is one variety that performs well under grazing management, but its cutting performance is disappointing, he adds.

The grass testing system run by NIAB provides the data to choose the most appropriate varieties for each situation.

Whenever possible, he advises using information from local grass variety testing sites that are spread around the country.

"Variety performance varies throughout the UK. This is because of the different soil types and climates.

"An early, high yielding variety may be unsuitable for northern sites because its prone to winter damage."

Grass seed merchants that display the SAC or NIAB logo receive more information than shown in the grass Recommended lists. These merchants can help identify the best varieties for a given situation, advises Dr Weddell.

VARIETY CHOICE

&#8226 Check varieties in mixtures.

&#8226 Choose according to needs.

&#8226 Dont buy on price.


VARIETY CHOICE

&#8226 Check varieties in mixtures.

&#8226 Choose according to needs.

&#8226 Dont buy on price.

Consider the properties of individual varieties in grass mixtures, says SACs John Weddell.


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