2014-07-18   facebook twitter rss

Sow Catch Crops Into Stubbles to Get Ahead

Although it’s been a good year for growing maize and grass, livestock farmers should still be looking to make the most of home-grown forages.

This year’s likely early cereals harvest is a great opportunity to sow catch crops and save the grass/maize silages for the winter, says Limagrain’s Martin Titley.

Samson stubble turnip is ideal for grazing in situ, it is a slightly sweeter variety as it is a tetraploid and it has been shown to be preferentially grazed.

Samson stubble turnip is ideal for grazing in situ, it is a slightly sweeter variety as it is a tetraploid and it has been shown to be preferentially grazed.

Mr Titley explains: “Summer-sown catch crops of stubble turnip and forage rape are easy to grow – just sow them straight into cereal stubbles for an extra forage supply that can be grazed off within three months of sowing.”

Farmers can take a video tour of Limagrain’s forage trial site and learn about the different varieties of these catch crops by visiting the Forage Crops pages on the Limagrain website.

Mr Titley says: “So far it’s been a good year for silaging – but we never know how long the winter will last, and if spring weather delays turnouts, then forage stocks are put under pressure. So farmers can get ahead now, there’s time to harvest an extra crop from the land before drilling spring cereals or a new grass ley.”

Stubble turnips are quick and easy to establish: they can be drilled or broadcast directly into cereal stubbles from now and through August. The crop will then be ready for grazing, 12-14 weeks later.

Mr Titley adds: “Stubble turnip crops provide a source of sugar energy, are relatively inexpensive to grow, and require minimal management. The variety Samson is well-suited for grazing as it sits high in the ground. It is a tetraploid variety, which means it’s sweeter, and it has been shown to be preferentially grazed. It can achieve DM yields of around 5t/ha and has a Metabolisable Energy content of 11 MJ/kg.”

A grower’s guide for stubble turnips is also available on the Limagrain website. It includes information on the sowing rates required for different seedbed situations, fertiliser guidelines, feeding strategies and variety choices.

Forage rape is another catch crop which is fast to establish; crops will be ready for grazing within 13-15 weeks. It can be sown up until the end of August. It has a crude protein content of around 20%, which is a lot higher than most other forage crops.

Mr Titley says: “Interval, a rape and kale hybrid variety, can deliver DM yields of around 4t/ha, and has been the consistently highest yielding variety in Limagrain trials. It is a good choice where the crop will be grazed up until Christmas, but where a longer term crop is required then grow Hobson – this has shown the best winter hardiness in our trials.

“When sown together, the two forages provide a balanced in-field diet – the stubble turnips supply the bulk of the energy, and the forage rape provides an extra boost of protein. Another advantage of the dual sowing is that the forage rape leaves provide frost protection to the stubble turnips, resulting in an increased winter hardiness.”


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