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Autumn sown forage crop options

Autumn sown forage crop options

Autumn sown forage crop options

Mount Peel Station is a 5,500 ha sheep, deer and beef cattle grazing operation located in the Rangitata Gorge, inland Mid Canterbury. Owned by John and Rose Acland and managed by their son Arthur, the Acland’s have been using Mainstar rape mixed with annual ryegrass for several years as a tool for pasture renovation and filling seasonal feed gaps.

Located predominantly on rolling to steep hill country, between 300 to 600 m above sea level, the land can be prone to slower pasture production on the shoulders of the season. For this reason, making efficient use of the flats is an important part of the Mount Peel grazing system.

The Mainstar and annual ryegrass system provides valuable winter feed and helps fill feed gaps on the shoulder of the seasons, while also providing an opportunity to control problem weeds and rejuvenate older pastures.

Working with Brent Dalley, PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative based out of Geraldine, pasture paddocks due for renewal are sprayed out at the end of November to early December depending on the feed supply and fallow for four to six weeks. This fallow period helps conserve moisture prior to establishing the crop as well as allowing a second germination of problematic weeds and grass thatch that can typically be a challenge in the pasture renovation process.

“We always apply a second spray to tidy up the paddocks which lines up the Mainstar rape and grass to be drilled around the middle to the end of January,” says Brent.

Paddocks are sown with 3 kg per ha of Gaucho® treated Mainstar rape with 20 kg per ha annual ryegrass. This crop provides feed for R1 cattle in the autumn which helps alleviate pressure on pastures across the rest of the farm. 

The benefit of mixing annual ryegrass is that it carries on growing until the following November to December when it is then sprayed out to go into swedes or kale, the next phase of the pasture renovation programme.

“The ryegrass has an important role in early spring as the pasture production is slowed compared to the vigour of short-term ryegrass which helps provide feed when there is a shortage,” says Brent.

Mainstar is a modern, early-maturity rape with excellent regrowth potential and good frost tolerance which extends grazing times into winter. It is a versatile brassica ready for the first graze at 10 to 12 weeks with up to three grazings possible.

This year, Mount Peel is planning to use Jivet as the companion ryegrass with Mainstar. Jivet is a broadleaved, tetraploid annual ryegrass with excellent winter and early spring production making it a great option to combine with Mainstar.

Contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative to discuss including Mainstar forage rape and a short-term ryegrass in your farming system.