New Irish grass variety – Oakpark – makes the cut

Oakpark is the first grass variety to make it onto the recommended list as part of the Teagasc/Goldcrop marketing agreement.

Launched today, Oakpark is a new late diploid perennial ryegrass variety with a Pasture Profit Index (PPI) of €118. It was added to the 2019 Recommended Grass Variety List which was published yesterday.

The variety will be the first to be commercialised from the marketing agreement signed between Teagasc and Goldcrop in 2013.

Oakpark has a good balance for spring, summer and autumn growth and also has high silage values. It rates as the second highest late diploid variety on the recommended list.

Patrick Conaghan, the forage, grass and clover breeder at Teagasc Oak Park, Co. Carlow, was responsible for the breeding of the variety. The Teagasc grass-breeding programme is currently credited with 33% of the forage varieties on the Irish recommended list.

The clover breeding programme was responsible for some of the highest performing clover varieties, including: Coolfin; Buddy; and Dublin.

Further varieties currently undergoing seed increase for future release by Goldcrop include: Glenmore and Gleneagle (two late diploid perennial ryegrass varieties); and Fearga (a red clover variety).

Fearga is the first Irish bred red clover variety and the highest yielding red clover variety on the UK Recommended List trials.

Speaking at the grassland conference today, Thursday, 28 February at Teagasc headquarters, Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle said; ”Oakpark is the first of a steady stream of perennial grass varieties that will be created from the grass breeding programme here in Co. Carlow.

It is fantastic that Goldcrop can now propagate and market this variety for Irish farmers. Teagasc is really satisfied that its varieties are being marketed and sold by an Irish-owned company.

“One of the main reasons for having an Irish grass breeding programme is to create varieties suitable for Irish grassland farmers,” Boyle stated.

Dave Barry, General Manager of Grass Seed and Forage Crop, Goldcrop, remarked: “Improved varieties ensure the continued advancement of the grass-based systems.

“Teagasc forage breeding is excellently placed to produce outstanding new varieties, like Oakpark, due to its location and motivation to adapt the latest technology.

It is an exciting time for Goldcrop to begin bringing these ever-improving varieties to farm.

Professor Frank O’Mara, Director of Research in Teagasc said: “The grass breeding programme at Oakpark is developing all the time. Recently, we have incorporated genomic selection into the programme and Pat Conaghan and Stephen Byrne have developed new candidate varieties with this technology.

“We hope that this material will bring high preforming traits to the fore. The focus of the grass breeding programme is to have varieties suitable for Irish grassland farmers that score high up on the PPI list, and are balanced for all traits.”

John Murphy, General Manager of Goldcrop stated: “This partnership continues a long and proud tradition within Goldcrop to support breeding advancement, that allows us to bring the best plant genetics to Irish farms and now further afield.”

He continued: “Seed is at the centre of everything we do and that makes today all the more special for us. This is a day we’re going to long cherish.”