Limagrain UK has added highly-prolific plantain variety Tuatara to its portfolio. Bred in New Zealand and used widely by both cattle and sheep producers, the variety has established a reputation as a high yielding and high feed quality forage. Trialled by the company in 2017, it out-performed the control variety, Tonic, in both fresh and dry matter yields.
“Tuatara is a variety that’s particularly well-suited to drier conditions, and this was reflected in the trial results in 2017,” says Limagrain UK’s grass seed manager Ian Misselbrook.
Dry matter yield
Seven cuts were taken from the plots at Limagrain’s trial site in Lincolnshire, between April and September. Tuatara produced fresh yields of 91.4 tonnes per hectare and an average dry matter yield of 12.76 tonnes per hectare, compared to a fresh yield of 72 tonnes per hectare and a dry matter yield of 10.4 tonnes per hectare for the control variety. Dry matter contents were 14% and 14.4% respectively.
“We found that yields of Tuatara were up to three times greater than those for Tonic in May and June. Although yields of Tonic were around 20% higher later in the season, yields overall for Tuatara were higher,” adds Mr Misselbrook.
“The plaintain variety is included in Limagrain’s multi-species mixtures, to help to boost yields in mid-summer when the growth of other species slows down. It is also available to growers wishing to add it to a grass seed mixture or for those growing a single crop of plantain. The latter is a successful practice carried out by many producers in New Zealand.”
Forage plantain has fibrous roots, so it can withstand drought and grow well when grass growth has slowed down in mid-summer, when rainfall is generally lower. It is also easy to grow, but a free draining soil is preferable. A firm, fine and weed-free seed bed is required and it is best sown into warm soils above 10OC.
“Sowing is best through spring and up to July, and at a depth no greater than 10mm. It is an excellent source of key minerals required for livestock such as calcium, sodium, copper and selenium,” says Mr Misselbrook.
“Intakes and yields of milk solids have been shown to be higher in cows grazing swards that included plantain, compared to ryegrass-only swards.”
For more information visit the Limagrain website.