Setting legumes up for spring

Attention to the management of forage legumes now will pay dividends in spring when high-quality feed is required to realise the potential of next season’s lamb crop.

Professor Derrick Moot from Lincoln University says autumn rains may have germinated subterranean (sub) clover seedlings in dryland pastures along the east coast, but management of these seedlings will depend on how well-established they are.

Professor Derrick Moot crouches in a field of lucerne

Professor Derrick Moot recommends lucerne stands are grazed in late May and sprayed in early June.

Farmers in areas which received rain a month ago may have sub seedlings with three or four true leaves. These seedlings should be anchored in the ground, but Derrick recommends testing them by grabbing a seedling between the thumb and forefinger and giving it a pull.

If they pull out of the ground, they need to be left a little longer before the area can be grazed. If they break off, they can be grazed but preferably by cattle so that some leaves are left behind after grazing.

Lucerne stands should be given an opportunity to replenish underground reserves over autumn but should be grazed hard in late May and sprayed in early June.

Talk to your Luisetti Seeds agronomist for advice about legume management over autumn and winter.