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Challenges of the seasons – do you need stress tolerant grass?

Drought, especially spring drought is happening more frequently and farmers are having to review their forage more closely to ensure that their stocks will take them through the winter period. Reviewing the species of grass mixture before sowing a new ley is now becoming more important to protect losses in the form of reduced yield and quality.  

Due to climate change we are experiencing more extreme weather for example the drought of 2018 and flooding in 2019. There is a growing requirement for more adaptable, resilient grass leys that support farms in these extreme seasons.

Drought is a big challenge for future grass production. Today’s grass leys need to be more durable and better at taking nutrients from the soil in the most demanding conditions. Spring droughts are becoming more frequent, which means grass varieties suited to stress conditions like drought are required.

Root structure
The root structure of the species is more important today than it has ever been as a deep root mass is better at maintaining reliable and consistent forage production. Their nutrient uptake is more efficient, they are better at carbon sequestration and they will also improve the structure of the soil.

Stress tolerant grasses

PLUS Grasses

Grass leys that have been reseeded or overseeded regularly will provide a greater yield but also more importantly better quality. Using PLUS Grasses which are a cross between a fescue and an Italian, hybrid or the new perennial ryegrass variant provide longletivity to the ley but also stress tolerance in both dry and wet conditions. They have the same quick root growth as a ryegrass but their root mass grows deeper, which makes it more stress tolerant.

Improved regrowth after a spring drought reduces the impact on yield and performance. PLUS Grasses combine the properties of the two types of grasses. The fescue contributes qualities such as high dry matter yield, resistance to cold, drought tolerance and persistence, while the ryegrass contributes rapid establishment, good spring growth, digestibly, sugar content and palatability. PLUS Grasses are also better yielding than their parent lines.

Selecting the correct grass mixture

By selecting varieties in grass leys that are drought tolerant for the local conditions and a risk management strategy means that you are better prepared for a potential drought. Here at ForFarmers we exclusively include our PLUS Grass Hipast Perennial Tall Fescue in our TOPGRASS Grazing leys to provide good ground cover, density and softness of leaf which is ideal for grazing systems.

With a yield of an extra 1.5t DM / hectare over standard tall fescues along with increased protein content, Hipast Tall Fescue PLUS along with the high Diploid Perennial content in TOPGRASS All Graze and TOPGRASS Dairygen mixes will provide extreme sward density grazing yield, persistency and stress tolerance. As well as its exceptional high yield, Hipast also offers a high digestible matter content in combination with high energy. It has a ME value of 11.4 and a D-Value of 71.7.

Italian Ryegrass PLUS grasses and Hybrid Ryegrass PLUS grasses are included in our silage leys as they are deep rooting and will withstand the extremes of seasons whilst providing high quality cuts throughout the season.  

Dairy cows grazing

For more information

For more information about our TOPGRASS range or for advice on maximising your homegrown forage please speak to your local ForFarmers Account Manager or send us an online enquiry:

Contact a Forage Specialist