Ryegrass genetics unlock forage potential

18 Nov 2019

Opportunities for producers to improve performance from forage are at an unprecedented high, thanks to significant advancements in perennial ryegrass genetics during the past decade.

That was the key message from Germinal GB’s Ben Wixey, speaking at an event at IBERS Aberystwyth University.

Grassland potential

He pointed to improvements in perennial ryegrass digestibility, which have been achieved alongside continued increases in dry matter yield, and improved disease resistance and persistency.

“The simplest way to measure the improvement in grassland potential is to look at the ME yield per hectare that’s now possible from the best performing varieties on the Recommended Grass and Clover List.”

Newest varieties

One of newest varieties on the list, the late diploid perennial ryegrass AberBann, has an advantage of more than 11,000MJ/ha.

With 5.4MJ required to produce one litre of milk, that equates to about 2,000 litres/ha, or £500/ha at a milk price of 25ppl.

Sward quality

“To tap into this potential, producers should reseed their grassland routinely, in order to maintain sward quality.

“And to be sure that they’re accessing the best available genetics, they should always consult the Recommended Grass and Clover List when buying seeds mixture.

Optimum utilisation

“By implementing a reseeding programme, managing sward quality, and aiming for optimum utilisation, the potential to produce more from home-grown forage is there for most producers,” he added.