how to grow lucerne grass
This is recommended only for lucerne intended for seed production, with a limited lifespan, not for hay or grazing. Problems with removing air from the plastic bags has often led to low quality silage or total loss. This is a great little plant for accents along walkways or in rockeries. Water deeply and regularly during first growing season to establish an extensive root system. This they do by lowering the pH to 4.2 or lower. Lucerne is traditionally used to make hay, but the weather conditions may sometimes be unsuitable. Avoid brackish soil. Carbohydrates accumulate in autumn in those cultivars which undergo dormancy. The highest concentration of nutrients is usually obtained when lucerne is harvested at an immature stage, with the highest concentration per leaf area at 10% flowering. In most lucerne seed producing areas, lucerne is sown in the autumn. The seed of lucerne is small and needs to be sown to a maximum depth of 15mm otherwise a patchy, thin crop will result. After 2-4 days the lucerne can be baled, and it must be removed from the lands as soon as possible after this. Where it is grown for grazing, mixtures make management difficult in terms of frequency of grazing, fertilisation, and the eventual effect on the botanical composition of the pasture. Although the largest areas of lucerne are grown in 6-12" tall x 6-8" wide. This process can be advanced by use of rollers, crimpers and cutters, and the drying time may be reduced by as much as 30%. It is simpler to control weeds when lucerne is still at the seedling stage. During the early flowering stage, the leaves contain a greater concentration of digestible nutrients, proteins, fats, potassium, fibre, total non-structural carbohydrates, P, Ca, Mg, Al, Fe, Sr, B, Cu, Zn and Mn, than the stems. Lucerne seed is expensive, so avoid. The presence of weeds may result in downgrading and consequent financial loss. It also reduces leaf drop. From a plant-physiological point of view the tendency of the lucerne and the grass to compete for light, water, and nutritional elements, are further factors deter-mining the success of a mixture. The longer the hay remains on the land, the greater the loss of leaves. The following spacing is recommended for single rows: It is recommended that the wider spacings should rather be used. It is generally known that the quality of lucerne hay drops as the plant matures. The flowering stage is critical and it is here that moisture can determine the harvest. Lucerne belongs to the legume family, which means that, working with soil bacteria called rhizobia, it is able to fix nitrogen to make it available for plant growth. Lucerne, which is a high-protein feed, requires extra carbohydrate for good fermentation. These different criteria lead to differences in yield and quality but, when cutting is determined by the growth stage, the plant itself is used as the indicator and in general a more constant yield and quality is obtained within each cultivar and over several seasons and in different localities. Everywhere in the world lucerne planted for seed is sown in rows, as this gives the highest seed production. The critical factor is that lucerne must be allowed to flower at least once a year. Uniform soil texture will reduce the differences in development between plants. These nutrients should always be present and accessible. Lucerne is more sensitive to pH and to a shortage of phosphate than grasses. Lucerne is the king of fodder, yielding a large volume of high quality hay that’s rich in protein. The yield of stems increases linearly between the early vegetative and the late flowering stages, while leaf yields increase until the early flowering period. Information about this matter will be provided by the company with which you sign a contract. If it is under irrigation, then the best time for this is from the middle of May to the middle of June. First mix the seed thoroughly with inoculate and leave it in the shade to dry before sowing it. Grass fodder is used as an animal feed and can be produced in great numbers within 8 days from seed to grass for all livestock & even quicker with Co2 added. If it is necessary to cut the lucerne because of water shortage before it has fully flowered, then the spring growth should be allowed to grow out. Lucerne (Medicago sativa) is also known as ‘alfalfa’, which means ‘best fodder’ – and this says it all. Once established, prefers regular moisture but tolerates dry conditions. The critical level of moisture is determined by storage conditions, temperature and ventilation. Unpredictable thunderstorms may hamper the process, however, especially in summer rainfall areas, as they reduce the quality of the hay. An optimal rate is 20kg seed/ha to 25kg seed/ha. Row spacings from 5-12 m are used commercially.. By using a crimper, water loss is speeded up, and risks reduced. The cut lucerne is then removed from the land and dried, baled, milled and/or stored. This rain will also promote the development of secondary roots. The most common insects found on lucerne are the lucerne caterpillar, the American bollworm, sand mite, earth flea and various types of aphids. The land must be surrounded by an isolation area which: Such an isolation area must be free of any plants of any lucerne cultivar or any species of Medicago which flowers at the same time as the plants on the piece of land concerned, unless: Whether lucerne intended for seed production should be irrigated is determined by soil texture and depth, rainfall, evaporation, temperature, length of growing period and cultivation practices.The highest production is obtained when irrigation practices prevent stress and encourage slow but sustained growth throughout the growing period without excessive stimulation of vegetative growth. 3. This might be expensive, but it is the only way to ensure a profitable yield. Protection of the leaves during hay making is necessary, as leaves contain more nutrition than stems. This will prevent sufficient lactic acid forming, and the resulting high pH encourages the breakdown of plant material. The lifespan of the sward is determined by the rate of death of the plants, and this is the result mainly of root diseases. The use of desiccants to dry hay more quickly, is a promising new method. When the leaves begin to drop as a result of lack of water, the lucerne should be cut to limit further loss. This will cause poor germination and inadequate growth. The pH of the soil must be corrected before sowing and any nutrient shortages alleviated. 2,7kg sulphur. For every ton of dry material, lucerne withdraws the following from the soil: This constant depletion is another reason to carry out a comprehensive soil analysis. Use a good sticker medium, such as norilose, to ensure that the inoculate adheres well to the seed. The seed must maintain close contact with wet soil for about three days to establish a seedling. Roll before and after sowing to help achieve fast germination and weed competitiveness. When mixing large quantities of seed, it’s a good idea to use a drum, or even a concrete mixer. In this process, the plant enzymes and aerobic bacteria use the available carbohydrates to form heat and carbon dioxide. As Lucerne is a small seed it is best to sow at a shallow depth – either drilled close to the surface or dropped onto the soil. Cutting at a specific growth stage also makes it possible to take into account the variation due to various environments and growth tempos. Milled maize, barley, wheat, oats or molasses can be used to provide carbohydrates for fermentation. The quality of feed intake is more balanced, as the lucerne component provides the protein and the grass component the roughage requirements of the ruminant. Source: Infopak by K Lategan, Elsenburg/ Upington Agricultural Research Station. However, grass in growth mode can also be high in protein so a person has to be careful not to cumulatively feed too much. It is ideal to use machinery that will cut and load the lucerne in fewer operations. If the soil is very loose, compact it slightly with a roller to ensure better contact between seed and soil. In the case of planned production of certified seed, these plants have been established from basic seed of the same cultivar. The more dormant the cultivar, the more the crown is protected, and the more the lucerne is resistant to damage-related crown- and root-diseases. Lucerne grazing is mainly used in the following regions in South Africa: Where lucerne is chiefly grown for hay, mixtures affect application of fertiliser, harvesting methods and quality. Fertilisation will mainly depend on the fertility of the soil and the soil analysis. The seed producer must know the water-holding capacity of his soil and its fertility potential. © 2020 Farmer's Weekly Magazine | Caxton Magazines Digital |, SA soils ‘extremely degraded’ by unsustainable farming, Young pig farmer shares lessons learnt during her first five years, Advice on how to start a broiler business, Why Africa’s food supply needs a regional approach, Water stress affects more than 80% of SA cropland. 4. Perennial blue eyed grass wildflower is a member of the Iris family, but it is not a grass at all. In order for the lucerne plant to 'pump' or regrow, it must have sufficient reserves on which to draw when rainfall, temperature and day length combine to provide optimum conditions for growth. Minerals such as formic acid, proprionic acid and lactic acids can be used as alternatives to lower the pH. It is generally recommended that lucerne be dried to <15% moisture content before the hay is baled. This has been a satisfactory method in the past and is still popular. This should be followed by a rest period of 40-50 days before animals are again allowed on it. sufficient root penetration. Plants grow more erect and are therefore more accessible to pollinators, there is more light, and soil and air temperatures are higher early in the season. Damage to young growth should be kept to a minimum. Under-sowing Spring Cereals. Lucerne plants draw their water from a soil depth of 1.2 m, but the best results in seed production are obtained when water absorption up to 0.5 m is well controlled. Successful lucerne seed production is influenced by the following factors, among others: With the exception of weather conditions, the producer has a reasonable degree of control over factors influencing seed production. Weeds reduce the stand and the yield, complicate harvesting, increase cost of cleaning and may contaminate successive crops. Once seed is nearly ripe, irrigation should be completely stopped. If used during flowering time, overhead irrigation can so reduce pollination that losses of up to 15% may result. 13kg calcium. For this reason heavy sites tend to be avoided. Deep clay soil, clayey loam or sandy clay soil with a high water retention capacity is preferable to sandy soil. Nitrogen fixed by Rhizobium is available for the grass component (especially under grazing), and little or no N supplementation is needed during the season. Despite the common name blue-eyed grass, Sisyrinchium is a relative of iris and the fine blue-green foliage is quite reminiscent of the flattened, sword-like blades of an iris, only much finer. If rows are too narrow, grass persistence will be poor (shading) and grass production low (competition). Lucerne must be allowed to grow out to full flowering once a year. NH or organic acids are used to gain control of these and to preserve the hay. Express TV the 24/7 Telugu news channel dedicated to Infotainment content. Deadhead if reseeding is not desired. Increasing appreciation of the value of high-quality lucerne in terms of potential savings in energy and protein supplementation, have resulted in reconsideration of harvest-strategies. This will result in insufficient leucaena at high grazing dema… Though they bloom the heaviest in late spring and early summer, the plants may continue to bloom sporadically all summer long. the length of the grazing and resting periods, their timing with regard to growth, developmental stage and weather, as well as the grazing pressure. Most of these cultivars are also not resistant to the heavy grazing that is often experienced with sheep. Sowing Rates & Depth: Seeding rates of 11 - 15 kgs per hectare apply to either bare or coated seed. The digestibility and protein concentration of stems drops more rapidly with maturation than that of the leaves. Isolation. Weather conditions have little influence on the process. A soil test is recommended before... 2. So begin by making sure the soil is correct for the crop. Lucerne will not in general tolerate a waterlogged soil and this is commonly the cause of die out over winter. It is a good practice to allow the last growth of the autumn to develop to full flowering to restore reserves, and only cut again in the spring. Remove old foliage before new leaves emerge in spring. It should be covered with a roller or very light covering chain or mesh. It facilitates spraying against insects and weeds. David Rees from Finley in New South Wales is growing lucerne with Netafim drip irrigation. Because there may be more than one cycle of flowering and seed formation, it is best to use soil that can provide sufficient water for an entire growing season. sufficient root penetration. Undesirable bacteria of the genus Clostridium grow under these high pH conditions, forming butyric acid, ammonia and various amino acids associated with poor silage quality. If the cereal, usually spring barley, is cut as silage at the milky stage this provides a conservation crop in a year of establishment. These are used during the early stages of regrowth after winter rest or cutting, then build up again in roots and crowns when the plant is mature and in full bloom, but generally reach a maximum at early flowering stage. Silage is an alternative means of retaining nutritional quality. There is generally a cyclic pattern in the storage and use of non-structural carbohydrate reserves in the roots. It therefore have a lower netto energy thus a lower feed value. Nutrients This leads to a decline of the stand and loss of productivity. (From 750 to 800 kg of water is required for every kilogram of dry matter produced.) Producers of certified seed must register with the Directorate Plant and Quality Control (Dept Agric) according to the Plant Improvement Act. Various varieties of grass fodder include, but are not limited to, barley, oat grass, lucerne grass, rye grass or whatever grass one wishes to grow … The potential number of cuts under irrigation can vary from 2-12 per season, depending on dormancy. In moist areas, the amount of digestible nutrients, protein and minerals, drops after early flowering because of leaf loss due to shade, age and diseases. The optimum soil pH for lucerne is above 6.3 If soil pH is between 4.8 and 5.5, lucerne production may be reduced. The less often a tractor is driven over the land, the less damage it will cause. There is greater flexibility in the management of irrigation. Need to Know: Growing Lucerne in the UK Tuesday 17.07.2018 , news Simon Gittins is growing a semi–dormant lucerne variety supplied by Germinal and is embarking on a zero–grazing and crop–drying enterprise that he hopes will produce a valuable high protein dairy feed. Lucerne can be cultivated under dry land conditions where the annual summer rainfall is higher than 400 to 500 mm and in winter rainfall areas where the annual rainfall is higher than 350 to 400 mm. Dryland lucerne must be allowed to grow out at the end of the summer, from February to late March. This characteristic makes this possibly one of the most grazing-resistant semi-dormant cultivars available. “It thrives on free-draining soils and can be grown as a monoculture or in mixtures with suitably slow-growing grass species which won’t out-compete the lucerne seedlings. High levels of carbohydrate allow rapid recovery after harvesting or after winter. However, it will only become economical when hay is priced according to quality. Lucerne silage can be made by traditional methods, i.e. As a result, extra carbohydrate is necessary to allow the bacteria to form the lactic acid, acetic acid and proprionic acid that will preserve the silage. There is less lodging of plants and the lower humidity reduces the incidence of leaf diseases and the amount of waterdamaged seed compared to broadcast stands. It is not the general practice in South Africa to plant lucerne together with a grass component. If lucerne is ensiled straight off the land, leaf loss may be as low as 2-4%, while if it is made into hay, losses may run to 20-40%. Even non-dormant cultivars can be grazed with success. A rotation of 5 years is advised between lucerne … Grazing differs from mechanical harvesting in that the photosynthetic material is removed gradually over a period of time, and also removal is not as complete. Lucerne is an outstanding legume for grazing because of its high yield, quality and wide adaptability to different climates and soil types. Short-term weather forecasts should be obtained and, if sunny weather is predicted for the following 4-5 days, the process can begin. There must be sufficient water through the spring and summer to prevent stress while the flowers are being pollinated and the seed is ripening. Sisyrinchium 'Lucerne' ... dark green, grass-like foliage gives way to bright purplish-blue, star-like flowers. Lucerne grows well in deep soils that are not acidic. Because of the problem of bloat, the use of lucerne in the form of hay is a popular practice in South Africa. It is also a widely known fact that lucerne is a good source of protein and can therefore be useful for feeding broodmares, growing horses and horses in intense work. Losses due to overheating, mould and breakdown of carbohydrates in lucerne hay that has been baled too damp (more than 20% moisture content) can be reduced by reducing plant and microbial metabolism. Most producers use 1-1.5 kg seed per ha with the aim of getting 3-7 plants per 300 mm in a row. The quantity of stems and leaves is equal at early flowering stage, but by late flowering 60% of the total yield consists of stems and only 40% of leaves. 1. Cutting schedules are based on the growth stage, fixed cutting intervals, or development of regrowth on the crown. SA Standard has a dormancy of 6, compared to most other grazing cultivars which have a dormancy of 2 or 3. After lucerne has been harvested, it continues to respire actively for a short while. Sub-soil moisture will sustain the seedling until follow-up rainfall occurs. There is less danger of bloat because of the higher roughage-fibre intake from the grass component. The most important weeds to note are dodder (Cuscuta), tongblaar (Plantago), wild oats (Avena), ryegrass (Lolium), hondebos (Chenopodium), misbredie (Amaranthus), kiesieblaar (Malva), predikantsluis (Bromus) and stinkblaar (Datura). If it is higher than 65%, chemical preservatives must be added. Herbicides exist but are limited and it is good practice to obtain a … Honey bees are the only insects in South Africa which can successfully pollinate the lucerne flower with its trigger mechanism. Lucerne silage has more protein, calcium and phosphorous than some other silages, but less total digestible nutrients. lucerne as a drought-tolerant plant were highlighted. Small quantities of nitrogen and phosphate (15-20 kg/ha) can be applied at or before planting time to encourage growth and development of the young plants, which are not yet at a stage where they can fix sufficient N for themselves. Proper soil fertility will ensure that a planting establishes itself swiftly and vigorously, and remains productive. Unless these losses are controlled, they will begin at 22% moisture and by 35-45% moisture one can expect total loss. Therefore, it is recommended that alfalfa fields be rotated with other species (for example, corn) before reseeding. Approximately 30 per cent of the pure lucerne area and 30 per cent of the mixed lucerne area is resown annually. Pasture seed in the bottom of shallow tine furrows or small depressions (microsites or surface pitting) i… Acidity in soils can be corrected by applying lime. Producers who want only high quality lucerne will prefer a shorter stand and lower yield. Where it is used as a substitute for maize silage, the rations must be supplemented. Lucerne is an excellent source of Ca, Mg, P, carotene and vitamin D. Lucerne grazing is mainly used in the following regions in South Africa: South Western Cape, Northern and Eastern Cape, eastern Free State, North West Province and Mpumalanga. The ideal legume:grass ratio of 30:70 in a mixture is determined by many factors, of which choice of species, planting date, sowing density, stand density, planting method (rows vs. broadcast), soil fertility, timing and height of grazing, are probably the most important. It has the ability to respond quickly to significant summer rainfall (>10 millimetres) but requires 20-25 millimetres (mm) to produce substantial growth. If it is intended to produce basic seed, must be at least 200 m wide where the area intended for production is 2 ha or less, and at least 100 m wide where the area intended is more than 2 ha, and, If it is intended to produce certified seed, must be at least 100 m wide where the area intended for production is 2 ha or less, and at least 50 m wide where the intended area is more than 2 ha, In the case of planned production of basic seed, these plants have been established from breeders seed of the same cultivar, and. Low N, P and K can encourage certain undesirable plants. General guidelines for soil and seed preparation. The Lucerne grass commonly referred to alfalfa is a highly precious forage legume because of its palatable and nutritious benefits compared to Napier and It has a very unique look. Producers often use a combination of factors in scheduling hay making. Below pH 4.8, it will be difficult to get satisfactory establishment and lucerne growth will be markedly reduced. Problems with weeds and the cost of combating them can be reduced by well-planned rotation systems and cultivation. become plant available and to raise the pH closer to the desired level. Regrowth left on the plant through the winter protects the crown and the growing points against cold damage. Sisyrinchium angustifolium 'Lucerne' Growing and Maintenance Tips. The timing of placement of the hives in the lands is very important because early placement may result in the bees searching for other sources of food. Sowing dry ensures that pasture seed is in the right position to take advantage of the next rainfall to start germination. In South Africa, lucerne is grown under irrigation and as a dryland crop. The showy blooms of Lucerne Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) grace gardens from May to June on the heels of spring bulbs. Provide evenly moist, well-drained soil. of grasses. In general it is the case that a low soil pH (4.5 or lower) favours unwanted grasses. Soil with hard stony layers or shallow clay layers near the surface should be avoided. Lucerne will provide additional green feed at the start and at the end of the normal winter growing season with peak production in spring and early summer. Most hair roots occur in the upper 15-30 cm of soil, and these are responsible for 85% of the nutrient uptake of the plant. Sticker Poor quality hay may be the result of rain damage. The protein is of outstanding quality with a good amino acid profile, especially for non-ruminant animals such as pigs, poultry, ostriches and horses. The low pH inhibits the further growth of bacteria and the activity of enzymes. Lucerne can be grown on a wide variety of sites and soil types. It must be remembered that full-grown lucerne has a lower energy and digestible protein content than young lucerne. The energy necessary for regrowth of lucerne after cutting is stored in the form of non-structural carbohydrates in the roots and crown or in the remaining leaves and stems. The tap root and crown of the lucerne pump act as the priming mechanism for the plant. In order to prevent seepage from the silo and the production of poor quality silage, the lucerne must remain in the windrows until moisture content is about 65%. Ensiling lucerne has many advantages over making hay, when it comes to retaining quality. 21kg potassium. If the area is dry the crop can be put under irrigation. The choice of cultivar is determined by the climate and soil type. Frequent harvesting of immature lucerne (vegetative or bud stage) or harvesting in the autumn, prevents sufficient vegetative regrowth to replace the reserves of non-structural carbohydrates and leads to their depletion in the roots. It is a reliable and economical source of protein because it is independent of the N-concentration in the soil. It is unlikely that there will be serious losses of leaf material from leaf spot, as the cooler conditions of winter will inhibit its spread. The plant is a bright addition to any location in the garden. Lucerne must be allowed to grow out to full flowering once a year. The main criteria is to establish on a site where a fine and firm seedbed can be established. This is due... 3. Choosing the right paddock Such a climate encourages the flowering of lucerne and provides favourable conditions for bee pollination and ripening of the seed, which must occur under dry conditions to prevent it becoming discoloured. Yield, quality and persistence of the stand are important factors to be taken into account in the development of a profitable harvest-management program. The most critical time in making silage is the first couple of hours after storage. Seed producers must irrigate lucerne till before flowering, and again after pollination is complete. Crimping of lucerne can shorten drying time by up to a day. In other words lucerne plants produce a chemical(s) which suppress the germination and growth of lucerne seedlings. A sugar solution may also be used. Almost any garden soil is where to plant blue eyed grass and it will attract bees and feed wild birds throughout the years. Water availability and temperature, as well as the dormancy of the cultivar, greatly influence the productivity and survival of lucerne, as does the choice of a cutting schedule suitable for the region. Herbage production of digit grass was similar irrespective of the lucerne sowing rate, indicating that total production increased with lucerne sowing rate (0.5 to 2.0 kg/ha).
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