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Concord II: the increasingly popular all-rounder for Spring paddocks.



For farmers looking to fill a potential feed gap over the Summer months, an Italian ryegrass called Concord II, which has been developed by seed company PGG Wrightson Seeds, is enjoying increasing popularity amongst Australian farmers.

As PGG Wrightson Seeds Pasture Agronomist Matt Carracher explains, recent environmental conditions have created a greater than usual requirement for the strategic planting of ryegrasses like Concord II.
“Due to the relative lack of rain, an increase in insect numbers and a recent cold snap, many farmers are looking for fast and easy Winter feed solutions. It means we’re seeing a lot of cereals being sown lately – but their early finish creates a feed gap. Spring sowing with an Italian ryegrass can help to fill that gap.”

It’s not only the planting of Winter crops that can create sparse Spring paddocks. Everything from increased pugging and insect pressure to the spraying of weeds can lead to reduced plant numbers. For Matt, these are all conditions where the introduction of an Italian ryegrass like Concord II can help.

“Spring-sown grasses tend to perform very well, because the days are getting longer, soil temperatures are rising, and weeds and insects are easier to control, which leads to much better establishment,” says Matt.
With many previous Italian ryegrasses generally offering good seedling vigour, but inferior persistence, Concord II is much more resilient and flexible, allowing it to be used in many more situations, as Matt describes.

“Concord II is bred for its speed of establishment. It’s very fast out of the ground, which means farmers can have the paddock back in rotation very quickly. It’s also able to persist into the second year, unlike some other Italian ryegrass. And being a diploid ryegrass, it’s very hardy, and will stand up to challenging conditions.”

Concord II is a late-heading variety and remains vegetative quite late in the season, retaining high levels of energy and protein – and that’s great for everything from liveweight gain to putting milk in the vat.

Dairy producer Jed Boshier at “Boshier Farms” in the Timboon District of Western Victoria has already experienced the benefits of Spring-sowing Concord II.
  
“Concord II has given us top quality silage and hay to fill the Summer feed gap. Plant growth was certainly better than we expected during last Spring. It has proved great for milk production and growth rates in our younger stock”.

Jed planted Concord II for dryland dairy pastures in late August, which yielded 10 tonnes per hectare over the season.

“I like the Italian ryegrass because of its fast establishment, high regrowth rates and its ability to persist under moderate heat stress. It has made great quality silage, some of the best we’ve ever cut. We also were able to take a second cut of hay before Christmas and fed young stock on returned regrowth later in the Summer.”

“Harvesting good quality silage is one thing we can control, and if we do this right, then we know we’ve got guaranteed milk production in unfavourable conditions. I would also recommend Spring-sowing Concord II as a beneficial option for cattle or sheep producers. It’s a great variety of grass that produces high quality feed right through the Summer in favourable conditions.”

Concord II’s vigorous establishment means that farmers can Spring-sow with greater confidence, knowing that the grass will establish early, before it gets too dry over the Summer. Matt points out, however, that hot, dry conditions can prove challenging for the persistence of Italian ryegrass through Summer. “In some more unforgiving environments, it may be more beneficial to consider planting a perennial ryegrass or Summer crop. Your local PGG Wrightson Seeds Sales Agronomist can help you determine the best approach for your needs.”

Paddock preparation also plays a major part in the success of any pasture, and Matt says it’s worth remembering that “the best performing pastures are those which are sown into a good seedbed, with optimal soil fertility, ph levels and weed and insect control.” And because early grazing management also has a large bearing on increased yield and productivity, he also recommends a light grazing across the establishing pasture, ideally at the early tillering stage.

To find out more about how Concord II can benefit your pasture system, visit www.pggwrightsonseeds.com.au or speak to one of PGG Wrightson Seeds’ pasture agronomists on 1800 619 910.
 
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Photo captions:
  1. Concord II Ryegrass
  2. Matt Carracher, PGG Wrightson Seeds Pasture Agronomist