Cropmark spreads summer options

By Dairy News

WITH SPRING here many producers will be looking closely at their summer cropping options and Cropmark Seeds has plenty to choose from, according to operations manager Adam Sheedy.

Mr Sheedy said it depends if you are looking for quick feed single graze dry matter or multi-graze potential, remembering these crops should never be more than a third of your cows daily dietary requirements.

Multi-graze options

Chico chicory is a fast-establishing summer herb of high yielding quality forage, high in ME and minerals. It is palatable, leafy and succulent and great for increased livestock performance and has improved drought resistance due to its one-metre long tap root.

Chico is tolerant of insect pests including diamondback moth and white butterfly and its popularity has continued to grow due to tolerance, quick regrowth and the fact it can be grown as an 18-month plus crop.

Chico is high in energy and minerals and has a crude protein of 18 to 25 per cent and an ME of up to 13.

It can be sown dry or under irrigation for higher yields and can be sown alongside red clover or other summer crop mixes.

Cropmark recommends sowing at a rate of 6 to 8 kg/ha, at a depth of 10 mm and rolled after for good seed soil contact.

Sow with DAP at 100 kg/ha once soil temperatures are at 12 degrees or above. First grazing should be at the seven-leaf stage and re-graze around 25 days or 25 to 30 cm height, for post emergence fertiliser apply urea at 80 kg/ha post grazing or utilise effluent.

Mr Sheedy said Pillar rape was an exciting new, fast establishing, high yielding multi-graze giant type forage rape with strong re-growth potential and good disease tolerance.

He said it was ideal sown as a spring sown break crop or in a re-grassing program in the autumn.

Use of a pre-emergent chemical will ensure no competition of broadleaf weeds and grasses, including bent and couch grasses.

Ideal grazing height is about 10 cm residual and Pillar shows great utilisation as livestock graze the stem.

“We tend to get strong and leafy re-growth when grazed to this height and we are getting strong feedback from farmers saying they are getting four to five grazings under good conditions,” Mr Sheedy said.

South-west Victorian dairy farmer and agronomist Luke Davidson was looking for something to sow in a sacrifice paddock and read about Pillar rape.

“We wanted a multi-graze crop and we had four grazings over a tough summer,” Mr Davidson said.

“We power-harrowed at 3 kg/ha and then direct-drilled over it in the autumn with Surge Italian rye-grass and I was exceptionally happy with Pillar and I will be using it again.”

It is recommended to sow Pillar at a rate of 3 kg/ha, at a depth of 10 mm and rolled after for good seed soil contact.

Sow when soil temperature is 10 degrees and rising and use DAP at 100 kg/ha. First grazing is about 85 to 100 days; and be vigilant for caterpillar or diamondback moth, treat with insecticide if necessary.

Apply urea at 80–100 kg/ha post grazing and when rain is imminent.

Single-graze option

If you are looking for a quick maturing crop, then Marco turnips are your best option, Mr Sheedy said.

Marco turnips are the earliest maturing on the market at 55 to 65 days from sowing to grazing, which means less time out of production.

Marco turnip is a tetraploid, tankard type, with a high bulb to leaf ratio.

The bulb retains its quality for as long as 90 days after sowing and offers good resistance to bolting and club root. Marco has a high ME and given good soil moisture can produce very high yields.

Mr Sheedy recommended Gaucho insecticide treated seed to protect the seedling during early establishment and to sow at a rate of 2 to 2.5 kg/ha.

Sowing at 10 mm and rolled after for good seed soil contact. Use DAP at 100 kg/ha at sowing and sow once soil temperatures are at 12 degrees and rising. Post emergence fertiliser: apply urea @ 150 kg/ha at full canopy closure; that is, when the soil can’t be seen.

If you have pugged or sacrifice paddocks, now is the time to future plan and prepare for your autumn sowing program, Mr Sheedy said.

“It is advisable to prepare your ground well for your summer crops by power-harrowing a fine seed bed, followed by rolling and this will allow you to just spray out in the autumn and direct drill causing little to no soil disruption and therefore keeping the soil structure less affected and in better shape to avoid pugging next winter.”