Producers should consider adding Westerwolds to their grass leys this spring, to prevent forage shortages later in 2018 and to help set them up for a better season next year.
So says DLF’s technical manager David Rhodes, who adds that 2017’s wet autumn meant that producers were unable to reseed leys and many hectares of grassland have been badly damaged by poaching and the poor weather since. “And this could create a serious shortage of forage acres during 2018.”
Prolonged winter-housing period
The weather-damaged leys will not provide the yield or quantity of silage needed in the coming season, warns Oliver Seeds’ John Harris. “The prolonged winter-housing period coupled with the late spring – and the resulting lower yield potential from late sown spring crops – will put pressure on this year’s ability to fill the clamp. And extra nitrogen won’t help these damaged swards yield.”
He says that several strategies can be employed to ensure both successful establishment and production in the year of sowing and help producer get back to good productive swards.
Under-sowing with grass
“Under-sowing a whole-crop cereal or arable silage with grass is one option, which provides a potentially high yield of protein and starch in as little as 14 weeks with the established grass to use thereafter,” says Mr Rhodes. However, it does usually involve two passes with the drill.
For those who prefer to stick with grass, Westerwolds ryegrass is a straightforward and highly effective way of producing bulk in the year of sowing. “It’s also the only grass to form a stem in year one. All other species remain leafy in their maiden season, so that may help those making hay or haylage.”