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Cheap way to avoid forage acre shortage
12:39pm Friday 8th March 2013 in Farming
THE challenging weather of 2012 has left a legacy of unsown autumn reseeds and badly damaged grassland on many farms creating potentially serious shortages of forage acres in 2013.
Several strategies can be employed to ensure both successful establishment and production in the year of sowing.
Under-sowing a wholecrop cereal or arable silage is an obvious choice but this involves two sowing operations, and with cereal seed both expensive and difficult to find, it could be a relatively expensive option in the current year.
The use of Westerwolds Ryegrass as an option is cheap, easy and highly effective in terms of producing bulk in the year of sowing. Two options available to farmers, who missed the autumn reseed window, are: Option 1 – Carry out the full reseed in the spring using a standard mixture with up to 3kg/ac (7.5kg/ha) of Westerwolds Ryegrass added to the mixture, therefore increasing the sowing rate to 18 – 19kg/ac.
As Westerwolds Ryegrass is an aggressive, fast-growing species it is essential that it is encouraged to die out in the year of sowing. Consequently, mixtures containing Westerwolds should always be sown before the end of June and their autumn management should include hard grazing to ensure the Westerwolds Ryegrass component is minimised for the following year.
Option 2 – Sow Westerwolds Ryegrass at around 15kg/ac (37kg/ha) as a pure stand for multiple silage cuts over the summer before sowing a full re-seed or returning the field to the arable rotation in the autumn.
As a pure-stand Westerwolds can produce up to around 6T DM/ac (15T DM/ha) and is very responsive to high fertiliser input. Where Westerwolds is used in an arable rotation it is important to cut the crop before it becomes over mature to prevent it from shedding viable seeds that could cause problems in subsequent crops.
Unlike most perennial grass species, Westerwolds Ryegrass completes its reproductive lifecycle in the year of sowing so is an ideal option for those looking for a quick growing and effective solution to fill the production gap normally associated with a new reseed.
• For more information, contact Mark Hodgson, Farmway’s grass seed manager on 01325 504643.
by Mark Hodgson, grass seed manager, Farmway