28 .Mar.2018

Westerwolds Ryegrass Opportunities For Spring 2018

The challenging weather of 2017 has left a legacy of unsown autumn reseeds and badly damaged grassland on many farms creating potentially serious shortages of forage acres in 2018.

Several strategies can be employed to ensure both successful establishment and production in the year of sowing. Under-sowing  a whole-crop cereal or arable silage is an obvious choice but this involves two sowing operations and with cereal seed both expensive and difficult to find, it could be a relatively expensive option in the current year. The use of Westerwolds Ryegrass as an option is cheap, easy and highly effective in terms of producing bulk production in the year of sowing.
Two Westerwold Ryegrass options open to farmers who missed the autum reseed window are:

Option 1

Carry out the full  reseed in the spring using a standard mixture with up to 3kg/ac (7.5kg/ha) of Westerwolds Ryegrass added to the mixture therefore increasing the sowing rate to 17 – 18kg/ac (42 – 45kg/ha). This combination will provide:
Grazing in 6 – 8 weeks or cutting in 10 – 12 weeks
Rapid regrowth for grazing or subsequent cuts
Production of up to 4T DM/ac (10T DM/ha) in the year of sowing 
A nurse crop for the establishing standard mixture
A simple, ready mixed low cost solution to overcome production shortfalls
As Westerwolds Ryegrass is an aggressive fast growing species it is essential that it is encouraged to die out in the year of sowing. Consequently mixtures containing Westerwolds should always be sown before the end of June and their autumn management should include hard grazing to ensure the Westerwolds Ryegrass component is minimised for the following year.

Option 2 

Sow Westerwolds Ryegrass at around 15kg/ac (37kg/ha) as a pure stand for multiple silage cuts over the summer before sowing a full re-seed or returning the field to the arable rotation in the autumn. As a pure stand Westerwolds can produce up to around 6T DM/ac (15T DM/ha) and is very responsive to high fertiliser input.  Where Westerwolds is used in an arable rotation it is important to cut the crop before it becomes over mature to prevent it from shedding viable seeds that could cause problems in subsequent crops.
Unlike most perennial grass species, Westerwolds Ryegrass completes its reproductive lifecycle in the year of sowing so is an ideal option for those looking for a quick growing and effective solution to fill the production gap normally associated with a new reseed.