It is officially the sunniest and driest May on record at our forage breeding and testing station in North Oxfordshire, and for most that is welcome news, but for those looking to grow grass it is a significant concern. Our site long-term averages 6.5 tonnes per hectare of grass at the first cut on measured trial plots but this year it is just over 5 tonnes. In trials designed to simulate yields from grazing animals after an initial bumper harvest following the wet start to the year growth as all but halted after two cuttings.
DSV UK tests a wide range of species from our various European breeding stations in addition to the ryegrasses developed at Wardington to ensure suitability to the climatic conditions of the UK. This year we have seen a huge response from red clover at the site, with first cut yields 20% higher than average at 6 tonnes hectare.
We welcome the addition the England and Wales recommended list three new grass varieties this year. From the breeding programme at Wardington comes Perkins, a hybrid of Italian and perennial ryegrass which has very good persistency of yield and ground cover. The variety is suited to sowing in medium term leys, and makes a good companion to red clover, for a lower input and resilient crop.
Also new to the Recommended List are two varieties of Italian ryegrass; “Arman” and “Sendero”. Arman is well suited to 1 year break leys with high early yields. Sendero is one of a set of new varieties coming through from DSV which are rapidly increasing yield gain in the diploid Italian ryegrasses. In almost all measured characters Sendero is the highest yielding diploid Italian ryegrass and without any loss in digestibility.
In the next few weeks all the breeders seed multiplications will be assessed to ensure purity of potential varieties, the plants from our selection nurseries which form the basis of the next cycle and the trials to test those which are closer to market. A great task to be sure, but one that is completed with the hard work and skill of the staff of the DSV UK. I wish you good luck, some better weather as always, and of course the best of health especially at this time.