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Rural Diary Pasture Renewal
22 February 2018 External Supplier

Choosing a top performing perennial ryegrass

Over ten years of investment in breeding, research and development has paid off with recently released Platform AR37 jumping straight to the top of this year’s National Forage Variety Trial (NFVT) summary.

Nick Browning, Northland dairy farmer, compared Platform AR37 to Expo AR37 and found Platform AR37 to be a strong establishing grass with very good tiller density. He has been impressed with Platforms’s cool season growth in a challenging wet year. Although Nick’s paddocks were late autumn planted, the ryegrass has provided four grazings over
the winter and early spring.

Similar to Nick, Waikato mixed sheep, beef and cropping farmer Donald Stobie says Platform AR37 established well and has handled the extremely wet winter. Donald’s paddock was readily grazed by lambs and produced as much feed as Excess AR37. Both Donald and Nick are interested to see how Platform AR37 handles the summer and if it does as well as trials suggest, they will be looking for seeds to plant following their summer crops.

Platform AR37 is a dense finely leaved cultivar with a late heading date (more than 12 days) fitting between mid-season Excess and very late Base. “Parentage for Platform AR37 includes a combination of elite New Zealand and North-West Spanish genetics to provide both spring and cool season growth when it is needed most” says plant breeder Tom Lyons.

The relationship between Platform and New Zealand’s premium AR37 endophyte has also been a major focus in the development of this new cultivar. Selection for endophyte compatibility and stability enables the new ryegrass to consistently deliver insect protection for major pests including black beetle, Argentine stem weevil larvae, pasture mealy bug, root aphid and porina.

The extensive breeding, selection and testing by PGG Wrightson Seeds plant breeders and agronomists have delivered two other top performing perennial ryegrasses, Base AR37 and Excess AR37. Along with Platform AR37, these three perennial ryegrasses all feature in the top five of this year’s independent NFVT results (see Graph 1 below). “It’s great to be able to offer New Zealand farmers top performing perennial ryegrasses in each of the main heading date groups; mid-season, late and very late” says PGG Wrightson Seeds National Sales and Marketing Manager, Hugh McDonald.


Excess AR37 and Base AR37 have also performed strongly in various regional NFVT summaries1. In the Upper North Island, Excess AR37 has demonstrated its suitability for this challenging environment while Base AR37 continues to produce outstanding results in the Canterbury (upper South Island) summary.

Having the right balance of paddocks with different heading dates is critical to maintaining feed quality and matching feed supply to demand. The heading date of a ryegrass cultivar is when 10 percent of plants have emerged seed heads. Dates are defined relative to the cultivar Nui heading at day zero, which is approximately 22 October. Mid-season ryegrasses such as Excess AR37 (more than seven days) and Rely (zero days later than Nui) offer an earlier ‘spring flush’ in the six weeks prior to
heading, while later heading varieties such as Base AR37 (more than 22 days) hold quality providing leafy high quality
feed later in spring.

It is recommended to sow ryegrass cultivars with a range of different heading dates to spread time of heading and reduce the overall loss of summer quality. Sowing ryegrasses with different heading dates in separate paddocks is recommended along with planting no more than 50 percent of the farm in late/very late heading cultivars to avoid early spring feed pinches.

For more information on PGG Wrightson Seeds’ range of forage grasses, contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.


1 NFVT Perennial Ryegrass Summary: http://www.nzpbra.org/wp-content/uploads/2016-perennial-ryegrass-graphs.pdf

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Rollesby Valley Lamb Sale

22 February 2018

The iconic Rollesby Valley Lamb Sale, which attracted a record number of buyers this year, was held on Thursday 8 February.

It’s a big couple of days for the South Canterbury PGG Wrightson Livestock team with the teams working on Wednesday and Thursday morning to prepare the ewes and lambs for sale from 11am on Thursday. It is a big logistical exercise with 12 vendors, nine locations, over 20,000 lambs and ewes on offer which are located in and around Rollesby Valley near Fairlie. It is one of the biggest on farm lamb sales in the South Island.

The shared-vendor sale has been running for 24 years and came about as the local farmers agreed it would be great to get the lambs off their farms in one go, rather than drafting until June. Fairlie-based PGG Wrightson Livestock Agent Bruce Dunbar was key to co-ordinating the first sale.

After the sale Joe Higgins, PGG Wrightson Regional Livestock Manager said, “We are extremely happy with how the day went and all of the vendors are pleased with their results – with all up on last year by $15 to $25. It is always challenging logistically selling a large number of lambs and travelling from property to property, and keeping the momentum of the sale going but the day went very well. Over the years the sale has gained a good reputation and was well supported by a strong gallery of repeat buyers. About five years ago 70% of the lambs sold went south, now 70% of them go to Mid Canterbury to lamb finishers. Top price on the day was $149 at Herb and Cate Ross’s Single Hill Station for a pen of 125 Perendale Wether lambs. The interest in half bred lambs was strong with a top price of $102 at both Mt Dalgety Station and Ranui Station.”

Rollesby Valley Lamb Sale

How's your water quality?

06 March 2018

Fruitfed Supplies Senior Technical Advisor Tayah Ryan considers water quality and its impact on horticultural practices.

It’s not often we give much thought to the water we put in our spray tanks, but water quality can have a significant influence on the stability of chemicals within the spray tank.

Poor water quality can result in the breakdown of active ingredients within the tank and can negatively impact on their effectiveness on the target pest or disease. While there are a multitude of factors that impact on water quality, the two main aspects we will focus on in this article are pH and water hardness. Water hardness is a measure of the amount of positively charged ions present.
Calcium (Ca2+) is the most common, but magnesium, iron and manganese can also have the same impact.

Some agrichemical products hold a strong negative charge. Negatively charged products (e.g. glyphosate) attract positively charged particles (e.g. Ca2+) within water. Hard water containing many positively charged particles can therefore result in the product becoming ‘locked up’ and consequently unavailable for absorption into the plant. Sticking with glyphosate as our example, a water hardness reading of 300 pm can lock up to 30% of the glyphosate active. pH in its simplest form is a measure of how acidic or alkaline a solution is. Generally, when we talk about water for spraying, a pH above 8 might be considered ‘high’, although this can vary somewhat depending on the product (consult individual product labels for more detail).

Generally, the more sensitive a product is to pH, the faster it will hydrolyse, i.e. break down, in the spray tank if outside of this optimum. Insecticides tend to be particularly sensitive, and usually prefer a slightly acid pH. In comparison, copper fungicides should never be acidified, as this can result in excessive release of copper ions into the spray solution and can cause spray damage on fruit and/or leaves. General comments regarding water quality

  • A water test is generally the most accurate way to determine water quality. Your local Fruitfed Supplies store can assist with this.
  • Always check the product label for information regarding water quality and the chemical you are spraying.
  • Always try to spray out your tank in one day, and don’t leave sitting overnight. This is particularly important where your pH may not be in the optimum range for the product used.
  • There are products available to adjust both the pH and the hardness of your spray water (e.g. X-Change) if this is what’s required.

For more information on water quality and how to test, talk to your local Fruitfed Supplies store for advice. Find them here

Sheep & Beef Market Update, March 2018

12 March 2018

North Island Sheep and Beef

North Island beef farmers are set for a positive few weeks of weaner sales through the first half of the autumn. Last year’s weaner sales achieved record prices with encouraging volumes of cattle going through the yards. This year, we have plenty of grass on the paddocks, and farmer confidence is at high levels and quality animals are likely to remain at least as highly sought after as they were at the weaner sales 12 months ago.

Weaner sales start early in March, in Northland, and progress down the country from there over the following six to eight weeks, finishing in Gisborne and Manawatu in mid-April. Sales will be held in around 20 individual saleyards. Recent trends have shown a good mix of local and external buyers at all these North Island weaner sales. Last year record prices were set at the Masterton weaner sale so this year’s Masterton sale will be the one to watch.

Black cattle are always sought after at the sales, with the trend towards them growing ever stronger. Angus always sell well, though so do good cattle in any breed. This year, prices for dairy cross cattle should also hold up. We expect Hereford-Friesian weaners to be in strong demand.

South Island Sheep and Beef

South Island has enjoyed wide spread rain in the last two weeks. The drier areas such as Otago and Southland will certainly benefit from the rain which will give pastures and winter crops a much needed boost.

With the dry prevailing in Southland and Otago, stock that is normally finished has had to be sold as stores. Thankfully Canterbury and the North Island has good feed conditions to buy in the increased numbers of store animals that become available.

With the start of calf sales starting within the next two weeks farmers are gearing up to purchase calves. There has been a lot of enquiry from both the South and North Island to purchase calves, this should see strong demand through Auction and Private sales.

For more information, sign up to the Agonline email updates.

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