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1 October 2017 External Supplier

Choosing the right kale

Forage quality should be a key consideration when deciding on the kale cultivar that will ultimately determine next winter’s animal performance.

With a wide range of kale cultivars available, it is important to differentiate between short, intermediate and giant types, carefully weighing up the advantages that each can offer to different farming systems. Kale height ultimately impacts on DM yield and other important characteristics including leaf percentage, stem thickness, palatability and feed quality. Short kale types tend to have lower yields but offer higher leaf percentages and stem quality. At the other end of the spectrum, giant types offer the highest yields, but often at the sacrifice of leaf percentages and stem quality.

In a recent study in New Zealand, DM yield, leaf percentage and quality assessments were made between May and September 2016 on four types of kale. Kestrel, a short to medium kale type, was shown to carry higher leaf percentages through the winter and produce high quality stems. This combination of high leaf percentages and soft quality stems means Kestrel can offer a high Metabolisable Energy (ME) feed suitable for chasing live weight gain targets in priority stock classes. Regal, an intermediate type kale, also maintained high leaf percentages while achieving excellent DM yields.

If production of bulk feed for maintenance of live weight is the primary decision driver, a giant type kale should be considered. Traditionally giant type kales have provided high yields while producing plants with significantly lower leaf percentages. However, recent plant breeding efforts have made significant gains in this area. Corsa, a new generation kale, offers significantly higher leaf percentages over traditional giant types while maintaining high DM yields.

For Ian and Jules Luedamann, Kestrel has been the perfect fit in their system since first trying this kale over ten years ago. Together they run a mixed dryland sheep and cropping operation planting around 13 ha of Kestrel each year to provide winter feed for their 1,400 ewes in Anama, Canterbury. Following permanent pasture, sowing Kestrel is the first part of a rotation that is followed by barley before planting back into permanent pasture.

This year’s Kestrel crop was treated and sown at 5 kg/ha on 10 November 2016 yielding an impressive 10,000 kg DM/ha. Average yields in this dryland situation normally range from 9,000-11,000 kg DM/ha, however, Ian’s primary driver for selecting Kestrel is its feed quality and system fit. He has been impressed with Kestrel’s soft stems ensuring palatability, high utilisation and animal performance. High utilisation is important as this means less crop wastage and stem residuals to deal with at the end of the season.

Before the start of grazing, yield assessments are made to ensure accurate crop allocation over the coming winter months. During grazing, utilisation is carefully monitored and Ian is quick to increase break sizes and supplements during adverse weather when utilisation can decline. Kale breaks are always supplemented with cereal silage ensuring ewes have a suitable source of fibre. Cereal silage provides an additional fibre source to ensure ewe Neutral Detergent Fibre (NDF) requirements are met. Brassica crops generally contain insufficient NDF and providing a suitable NDF source such as hay, silage or standing pasture is critical to avoiding nutritional problems such as ruminal acidosis.

Making the right cultivar decision this spring is critical to next winter’s animal performance. Contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative for more information.

Article supplied by PGG Wrightson Seeds

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Proven fodder beet weed control options

01 October 2017

With fodder beet a slow establishing crop and highly susceptible to weed competition, it is crucial that a thorough weed control programme is used.

Through its decades of experience and involvement in sugar beet production in Europe, Bayer Cropscience has developed a range of herbicide solutions for beet crops. These products and formulations have been refined and improved over many years to provide highly effective and reliable weed control, while being safe to the beet crop.

This herbicide technology has been brought to New Zealand and has proved to be equally effective here. Many of the local trials have involved assessing herbicide rates and timing of applications to monitoring efficacy on weeds and crop safety. Trials have also been conducted with other common tank mix partners to ensure that efficacy and safety is not compromised.

Bayer beet herbicide options include pre and post emergence products.

  • Nortron is a widely used pre-emergence herbicide and should be applied immediately after sowing. Nortron manages weed pressure through the crop emergence period through to beet cotyledon and two true leaf stage, where post emergence herbicides can then be safely used.
  • Betanal Quattro is an easy to use and convenient post emergence herbicide that provides knockdown and residual weed control. Betanal Quattro can be used at low rates early at the beet cotyledon stage, with rates able to be increased to control larger weeds from the beet two true leaf stage onwards.
  • Betanal Forte provides a useful post emergence contact herbicide option which needs to be tank mixed with other herbicides to provide residual control and broaden the weed spectrum.

Fodder beet crops require regular monitoring through the establishment to the crop closing in. Ensure the right product is applied at the right time. Contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative to discuss your fodder beet weed control programme.

Supplied by Bayer Cropscience

Have you considered forage rape?

01 November 2017

With summer around the corner, now is a good time to start considering feed supplies going forward, especially over the drier summer months.

If you have suffered from the excessively wet winter and have damaged pastures, rather than re-sowing pasture, an alternative option is to use a forage brassica such as rape as a break-crop within a renewal programme.

Forage rape can be spring or late summer sown. It builds a bulk amount of quality feed for a fattening option or in dairy situations as an alternative to areas where summer turnips don’t do well due to drier conditions. The development of inter-species hybrids Goliath® and Titan™ forage rapes, have challenged our thinking as to how we can use them in the
farm system. Now we can carry them over an entire 12 month period from a spring sowing or late summer sowing to produce a bulk feed over winter. To capture the true benefit of Goliath and Titan, feed allocation is critical. This is best achieved by a block rotational grazing system for lambs or daily break shifts for cattle. It is important that the grazing system allows animals to have a fibre supplement intake with sufficient residual left behind to allow the plant to regrow for possible second, third and fourth grazing’s. Like all high value forage crops, transitioning between feeds is important to reduce animal health issues and allow animals to achieve performance earlier.

The scope to how we use forage rape has also increased with Goliath® and Titan™, which can now also be used in combination with other forages such as Italian ryegrass
or undersown with clover/herb mixes. The reasoning is to increase the flexibility in how the crop can be used and to capture opportunities during the season such as changing store stock prices. For example, a number of PGG Wrightson hill country customers use a combination of Titan™ or Goliath™ forage rape with Feast II® Italian ryegrass. On hill country, highly controlled feed allocation can be difficult so the mixture with grass means more flexibility; lambs can be finished over summer using a three to four block rotational grazing system, then shut up for feeding to lambs/hoggets and/or cattle over winter. If care is taken with grazing management the grass is allowed to regrow to support lambing ewes in spring. More recently dairy farmers have been using Goliath as a substitute to summer turnips as it can tolerate drier and lower fertility conditions better. Fed in a similar manner to turnips, milking cows are offered 4-5 kg DM per day, as a complement to other components of the diet such as pasture and maize silage.

As a sole stand of forage rape or in combination with mixtures it is the flexibility that forage rape has that makes it worthy of further consideration in a grazing system. However it is important to understand that selection of forage rape species is based on days to maturity, Goliath is later at 90 or more days compared to Titan at 70 or more days. One of the most undervalued options available is Cleancrop™ forage rape. Cleancrop is a system that allows a broad spectrum herbicide, Telar® to be applied at sowing and the brassicas are tolerant
to the application. The advantage of using Telar is that it can be applied in different sowing styles, including oversowing and direct drilling. It also works even in dry conditions and can be applied at relatively low water rates. What has been demonstrated with Cleancrop rape is that the cultivar itself is one of the best, a high yield potential with a high leaf to stem ratio which is important for animal performance.

To fully understand how the forage rapes can be integrated into your farm system and the appropriate option is selected, talk to your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.

Article supplied by PGG Wrightson Seeds

Getting the best from your fodder beet crops

01 December 2017

Getting good yield from your beet crop takes some good decisions, timing and the weather playing ball.

Most of the work with beet is right at the start, but remember to focus on four key things once the crop is established to maximise yields.

  1. Canopy development

    Beet crop yields are mostly grown over the summer months. The crop does this by converting sunlight, water and nutrients into yield. The amount of light absorbed by the leaves of  the crop is directly proportional to the final yield. If you can see areas of bare ground in your crop, the sunshine hitting that ground is wasted and not converted into yield. A good established population and driving growth with fertiliser is key to obtaining a full canopy.

  2. Weed control
    Fodder beet is a weak competitor which means if another plant is too close to it the size of the beet reduces. Precision sowing allows spacing of plants so they don’t compete directly with other beet plants, but weed control is critical for maximum yields. Weed control in beet is more difficult than other crops due to the type and limited number of herbicides available to use over the crop. However, with careful rate selection and timing, it is possible. Make sure you don’t give up too early and keep an eye out for late strikes and the usual suspects, Californian thistle and couch, which arrive later than other weeds.

  3. Canopy maintenance
    After fighting hard to develop a full canopy through spring, there can be factors which prevent the crop holding it over summer. Some can’t be prevented, such as extreme hot weather. Others are difficult to stop, such as wild animals coming out of the bush for a snack. We can, however, do something about other factors, such as fertility and disease. Make sure you have done a soil test and apply the required amount of fertiliser to target the yield you are after. When disease pressure increases in mid-summer, monitor and consider using a fungicide at the first signs to keep the canopy clean. Some of the common diseases seen are powdery mildew (Ersiphe betae) and rust (Uromyces betae). The canopy drives total yield so any loss can cause the plant to use resources to generate new leaves. If the canopy reduces and bare ground is visible, then you are missing your maximum potential yield in your crop.

  4. Bolter removal
    Bolters are part of growing beet but it should only be at a low level in your crop. Make sure you take the time to remove these before any seeds set so you can avoid contaminating your paddocks with weed beet. Weed beet prevents future crops of beet being grown as found in the United Kingdom, and this is already starting to occur in New Zealand.

Higher winter feed crop yields lower your cost of feed which helps keep your operation profitable. If you would like more information or advice in the field about your fodder beet crop, contact your local PGG Wrightson representative who is up to date with all the latest technology and tools to maximise the yield of your winter crops.

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