Growing leafy, quality, late heading italian ryegrass right through the silage and hay season has become been a valuable tool for Western District farmers looking to maximise flexibility and production.

Heading dates vary significantly between ryegrasses, and these should be understood to ensure the grasses mix on a farm is most appropriate to its pasture production requirements and soil characteristics.

Jonathan Town of Notman Pasture Seeds in Purnim said late, and very late heading ryegrasses provide a significant advantage in late spring quality, especially pertinent in southern dairy regions.

“Late heading ryegrasses provide a significant advantage in late spring & early summer quality, as they maintain leafiness for longer, go to seed head later and newer varieties tend be still leafy after grazing or harvest” Mr Town said.

“Late maturing grasses also make pasture management easier, and help maintain the animals quality pasture intake through this period”

“We often see farmers use very early heading grasses, and the trade-off it quite evident, losses in late season pasture production in the south-west”.

New late heading cultivars make grazing, silage and hay management easier by growing luscious, high yielding feed for longer. At the forefront of late heading ryegrass breeding for Mr Town was Vatbuster perennial and Vibe Italian Ryegrass.

Bred with persistence in mind, Mr Town said these two had shown superior persistence under varying environmental conditions and dairy management systems; and without sacrificing yield.

“They’ve been a part of a 15-year persistence breeding & endophyte programme from, and naturally they’ve shown very good persistence in their class without animal toxicity”.

He said as a they handled hard grazing’s well and the new breeding technology gave advantages in late season production over older ryegrass types. By maintaining leafiness later, late maturing ryegrasses offer silage harvest flexibility to farmers by holding onto quality late.

“Vatbuster and Vibe seems to hang on in there when some other grasses”

“Vatbuster has some really robust varieties in Base AR37, Reward Endo5 and Matrix, all of which have good year around growth, especially late”

 “And Vibe handles hard grazing’s very well, and at +27 days heading date compared to Nui, it is up to 10 days later heading than traditional Italian ryegrasses, enabling it to maintain leafiness for longer” Mr Town said.

The bottom line Mr Town said is the late ryegrasses in the Western District, matched to the needs of the situation can pay for themselves surprisingly quickly by enhancing pasture year round and boost on farm profitability.

Get in touch with Notman Pasture Seeds on 0409 118 663 or visit our warehouse at 1499 Hopkins Highway, Purnim VIC 3278.