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Stackyard News Aug 2012

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August-Sown Fodder Crops Could Ease Winter Forage Shortages

Livestock farmers facing winter forage shortages due to silage-making disruptions or under-performing forage maize crops could in many parts of England and Wales still sow hybrid brassicas in August to provide valuable late-autumn grazing and take the pressure off conserved feed stocks.

Swift hybrid brassica autumn grazing

Swift hybrid brassica autumn grazing

So advises Helen Mathieu of British Seed Houses, who says crops of Redstart or Swift hybrid brassica established before the end of August could in the right circumstances provide good crops for strip-grazing in 10-12 weeks.

“Old pastures destined for re-seeding next spring or fields that have been badly poached over this wet summer could be ideal sites for growing a catch crop of hybrid brassicas,” says Helen. “There are even some forage maize crops that have failed due to this season’s conditions; in some cases it may be better to cut the losses and sow hybrid brassicas now as a salvage crop to partly overcome what may be a consequent shortfall in forage supplies.

“There is still ample time to spray off an old sward and establish a crop of Restart or Swift hybrid brassica capable of producing 5-7 tonnes of dry matter per hectare before the end of the autumn. Similar results can be achieved by direct drilling hybrid brassicas into cereal stubbles.

“Stock strip-grazed on brassicas should have access to baled silage or straw that offers a good source of roughage.”

Full details on growing brassica fodder crops are included in a free advisory guide that is available from British Seed Houses at or by calling 01522 868714.

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