Planning and Preparation

Planning and preparation is an important part of having successful pasture results. See the information on this page to gain information around understanding ryegrasses and heading dates


The Basics

  • Plan and prepare for success. Implement a renewal programme which addresses any limiting factors such as drainage, soil fertility, pests and weeds.
  • Choose an appropriate cultivar. Where pests are prevalent, an appropriate endophyte is a key consideration.
  • Establishing new pastures is about achieving a satisfactory level of tillering and root mass. From this point, a pasture will be resilient to ongoing grazing requirements and the challenges associated with periods of summer dry or winter wet.
  • Allowing new pasture to reach the 2.5-3 leaves stage before grazing will ensure individual plants build up energy reserves required for tillering and root growth.
  • Walk new pastures on a regular basis. Assess how far away they are from establishment targets, and plan for the necessary grazing management, fertilizer application and weed control.

Ongoing pasture management

  • Many of the recommendations for new pasture management continue to apply after the establishment period as persistence is all about maintaining tillers and root mass. A well established pasture will be more resilient to typical seasonal stresses and grazing requirements, however a higher standard of ongoing management will extend the lifespan of a pasture considerably.
  • Supply ongoing fertiliser requirements according to a soil test and yield targets, and control broadleaf weeds.
  • During challenging seasons, timely and appropriate adjustment of stocking rates, grazing residuals and round lengths is essential for recovery and persistence Pasture renewal, particularly with modern cultivars and endophytes, presents the opportunity for improved farm productivity.

Choosing a ryegrass: understanding ryegrass and heading dates

Ryegrass Types

• Not all ryegrasses were created equal. Five broad ryegrass classifications allow farmers to categorise ryegrasses as annual, Italian, short rotation, long rotation or perennial
• The classifications cross freely with each other and are best described as a continuum, from extreme annual to extreme perennial (see diagram below)
• Across a farm, paddocks of shorter-lived annual and Italian ryegrasses can complement longer-lived long rotation and perennial ryegrasses, delivering a range of pasture longevity, winter activity, and summer quality options

Ryegrass Heading (Maturity) Dates

• A cultivars heading or maturity date is the time in spring when 10% of plants have emerged seed heads in a typical year. Heading date precedes flowering date by about four weeks
• The heading date of a cultivar is defined relative to well-known cultivar Nui, heading at day zero
• Cultivars with different heading dates give farmers a range of production and forage quality options during late winter, spring and early summer
• Until recently, heading dates of perennial ryegrass cultivars were similar. Now perennial and long rotation ryegrasses with a wide range of heading dates are available
• A standardised system adopted by the major seed companies allows farmers to compare heading dates of different cultivars. Actual heading dates vary with geographic location, weather and grazing management, however, the ranking order of cultivars will not change
• For the heading date of individual PGG Wrightson Seeds cultivars, refer to the product page for each cultivars heading date relative to Nui.

Aftermath Heading (AMH)

• Aftermath heading (AMH) is the ongoing production of seed heads produced by a grass plant that occurs after the main flush of seed head production
• Seed head reduces pasture quality (and therefore animal performance), causing grazing management headaches in spring and summer. No seed head would be ideal, however seed yield is necessary because seed producers need seed to allow farmers to sow new pastures
• Low AMH cultivars aim to optimise animal performance while yielding enough seed to establish new pastures. Low AMH cultivars deliver a short, sharp peak of seed heads, followed by a leafy, high quality sward that favours good animal performance


Pasture Selection Guide

This diagram is intended as a guide only. For specific recommendations on the grasses best suited for your farming system, contact your local seed retailer, one of your local PGG Wrightson Seeds Representatives or call 0800 805 505.

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