Southbridge arable farmers Ian and Maree Lowery won this year’s Luisetti Seeds “Paddock of the Year” competition with an outstanding crop of Forage Tall Fescue.
Luisetti Seeds’ agronomist Shane King, says the crop yielded a healthy 2.259kg’s per hectare machine dressed, and returned an impressive $7,013 per hectare.
The Forage Tall Fescue is a first-year overseas multiplication crop, that went back to United States based customer. Shane says the US specifications were exceptionally high, but thanks to the efforts of Ian and Maree and staff at Luisetti Seeds, the final product was of very good quality.
The crop, which followed a pea crop, was planted on February 1, 2018 in 15cm (six-inch) rows.
Shane says the Tall Fescue established well and was grazed by ewes in early winter before being closed-up in early July.
The crop grew vigorously in spring and to slow it down, the crop was topped and the plant growth regulator, Moddus, was applied in split applications.
The first Moddus treatment was applied on October 8 and the second on October 18.
Epoxiconazole was applied with the Moddus, followed by two subsequent fungicide applications over the flowering period.
The Forage Tall Fescue remained disease-free through until cutting on January 1.
Ian Lowery admits that a number of factors contributed to such an outstanding crop. He says they had the right paddock, favourable weather conditions, good management practices and a great support team.
While reluctant to grow Tall Fescue, having had mixed results in the past, Shane talked Ian and Maree around and as they had a grass and weed-free paddock available, they agreed to give it a go.
The paddock had been in peas and prior to that white clover, so Ian says there was likely to be residual nitrogen in the soil and soil tests also confirmed good fertility.
As the peas had been harvested in early January, Ian was able to get the Tall Fescue established early, which Ian believes is important for Tall Fescue.
“The earlier the better.”
Thanks to a wet spring and early summer, the crop never needed irrigating and heading into harvest in late December, the couple knew they had a potentially high-yielding crop on their hands.
Ian says the weather leading up to cutting had been terrible, but was perfect when it came to cutting, windrowing and harvesting.
“We needed the weather to behave once it had been cut. You just don’t want any wind or rain.”
Although the seed was harvested in perfect conditions, Ian put the crop through the drier as is standard practice with all of their grass-seed crops.
While Ian and Maree had been told that this Tall Fescue could potentially yield 2000kg per hectare, they never thought they would achieve this is in a first-year crop.
“As it turned out we did achieve it.”
Summing up, Ian says the crop started well and finished well and was a relatively low-cost crop to grow, but they were rewarded with high yields and strong returns and like Shane, they are looking forward to seeing what the crop can produce this year.
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