When it comes to chicory cultivars, there are two types available – annual and perennial. This may not seem like an important distinction, but it can make a significant difference to the amount of dry matter (DM) produced over a six-month period.
An annual-type crop establishes and grows so much faster than a perennial, it can provide up to one more full grazing during summer. In this way it’s similar to the contrast in establishment and growth speed between an annual ryegrass, and a perennial one.
For coastal Taranaki equity farm partner Catherine Blom of Pihama, that extra growth potential showed itself virtually by the day last summer.
Catherine sowed her first chicory crop using the annual-type 501 Chicory in late spring as part of a strategy to control her Fat Evaluation Index (FEI) number and reduce in-shed feeding costs for a herd of 500 crossbred cows.
501 Chicory was recommended by Shaun Morresey, Techincal Sales Rep at Farm Source Opunake.
The first grazing was around 10 December, when the cows were on a 16-day round, and, by mid-January, 501 was growing so fast Catherine had to pull the round back to 10 days to fully use what she says was more feed than she expected.
"You could just see it growing. It took the cows a few days to get into it, but once they were used to it, they loved it! And the milk protein jumped a lot when we started grazing it," she said.
Catherine’s already planning how to get more out of 501 Chicory this spring. She says two things can be improved – sowing technique, and the timing of spray-out for subsequent new grass in autumn.
Her 20 hectare (ha) crop was patchy, with rows missing. This left room for undesirable summer grasses to grow among the chicory plants.
"I will spray it out earlier this time," she says. "I left the 2018/19 crop until the end of March and the cows weren’t fully utilising it anymore. Because of this my new grasses were a bit late getting in the ground - this is something I will monitor more closely this season!"
Catherine is now into her fourth year on the Pihama farm. It comprises 180ha of flat to rolling country on the coast south of Opunake and is run as System 3.5. Total production in 2018/19 was 276,000 kilograms (kg) milksolids (MS). The target for 2018/19 is 280,000kg MS.
Blair Cotching, pasture systems manager for Barenbrug Agriseeds, says 501 Chicory’s high yield potential means more milk in the vat, with associated financial benefits.
Combined with excellent nutritional value, this makes 501 a very cost-effective six month summer crop.
Where farmers are looking to protect soil quality and structure, direct drilling and other minimum tillage techniques have become increasingly popular for 501 Chicory, which establishes successfully under such systems, he says.
To find out more about 501 Chicory, talk to your Farm Source TSR today, or visit your local Farm Source store.
Article supplied by Barenbrug Agriseeds