Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 March 2018

Minority types offer alternative

While perennial ryegrass makes up 95pc of all grass seed used in Ireland, the remaining 5pc consists of other ryegrass varieties and clover.

Italian ryegrass

Italian ryegrass varieties are best suited to short-term leys of just two or three years. They have early spring growth, but can be difficult to manage in mid-season because of stemmy regrowth.

Italian varieties are suitable for intensive silage production and can also provide useful grazing in the spring and late autumn period. They tend to have low sward densities and are susceptible to poaching under adverse conditions.

The Italian ryegrasses on this year's Department of Agriculture Recommended List are Davinci (diploid), Fabio (tetraploid) and Nabucco (tetraploid).

Hybrid ryegrass

These varieties are a cross between Italian and perennial ryegrass types. While they often look more like one parent type than the other, their other characteristics are midway between the parents. The hybrid ryegrass varieties tend to yield higher than the intermediate and late groups of perennial ryegrass, but lower than the Italian ryegrasses. Hybrids tend to be more stemmy in summer than the intermediates and lates, but less stemmy than the Italians.

Four hybrid ryegrasses made it onto the Recommended List -- AberEve (tetraploid), Alliance (tetraploid), Ligunda (diploid) and Pirol (diploid).

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White clovers

White clovers are included as a component in most grass seed mixtures for their nutritive value and nitrogen-fixing abilities. They are classified according to leaf size into very large, large, medium and small leaved types. Very large and large leaved varieties are relatively tolerant to nitrogen fertiliser usage and compete well with companion grasses, making them suitable for silage production.

Medium leaved varieties are more suited to grazing but can also be used in silage mixes. Small leaved varieties are suitable only for grazing.

AberHerald, Alice, Aran, Avoca, Barblanca, Chieftain and Crusader are the recommended white clovers for this year.

Indo Farming