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Stackyard News Oct 2011

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British-Bred Ryegrass Given Starring Role in New Zealand

Turn on the TV anywhere in what is currently New Zealand’s spring and there’s a fair chance you’ll see and hear retired British plant breeder Dr Pete Wilkins extolling the virtues of the Aber High Sugar Grasses that he helped create during his 30-year career in Aberystwyth.

Dr Pete Wilkins
Dr Pete Wilkins

Whilst it is not that unusual to see farm inputs promoted on mainstream television in New Zealand, the presence of British-bred ryegrass gaining prime-time exposure in this global grazing heartland is certainly something of a ‘coals to Newcastle’ story.

The high profile campaign is justified by strong commercial success in the past five years and is being driven by the Hawkes Bay-based seed company Germinal Seeds (NZ) Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Germinal Holdings - which owns the global marketing rights of Aber High Sugar Grasses – and sister company to British Seed Houses Ltd.

“New Zealand has for decades set the benchmarks in grazing efficiency and has built its highly successful milk, lamb and beef industries on the quality and utilisation of its grassland,” says British Seed Houses Managing Director William Gilbert. “The fact that we are now seeing British-bred Aber High Sugar Grasses making such an impact is testament to the success achieved by Dr Wilkins and his colleagues past and present.

“Aber High Sugar Grasses are also a commercial success throughout the British Isles and across Europe, in South America, Scandinavia and North America – showing their reliability and versatility in varying conditions – and they have received accolades from British Grassland Society, NIAB and others for their contributions to the agricultural industry. Acceptance in New Zealand is a further endorsement and added confirmation of this success story.”

Dr Wilkins is currently starring in a series of mainstream television advertisements, which also feature testimonials from New Zealand dairy, beef and sheep farmers offering their views on familiar Aber High Sugar Grass varieties including AberDart, AberStar and AberMagic.

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