Why grass variety selection is such a talking point

Many grass swards sown today are expected to perform for 10 years and maybe even longer, so when reseeding it is important to use the best varieties available.

Varieties that are geared towards getting the most out of the sward are a must.

Higher-quality varieties have the potential to support higher animal intakes and performance, resulting in increased sward utilisation which is a proven driver of farm profitability.

Each extra tonne of grass utilised at farm level will increase net profit by €160/ha, according to Teagasc.

“Varieties with high quality values on the Pasture Profit Index (PPI) should dominate your grazing mixtures in 2017”, according to Dr. Mary McEvoy, Germinal.

Ensuring you use the top-performing varieties and mixtures will give the biggest return over time from your farm.

“Reseeding is a costly investment and one of the few on-farm investments which can pay for itself in a two-year-period, so it is worth using the best varieties available,” McEvoy emphasised.

The two most useful sources of information on grass varieties are the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Recommended List and the Teagasc Pasture Profit Index (PPI) – both of which were released a few weeks ago.

The PPI quantifies the performance of each variety across the key traits of seasonal DM yield, quality, persistency and silage DM yield.

Each variety is then ranked in economic terms, in a similar manner to how bulls are ranked using the EBI system.

According to McEvoy, “good spring growth, high quality (digestibility) and varieties that are highly-palatable are traits farmers should look for”.

The palatability factor of varieties is becoming a real consideration for farmers when choosing mixtures, as it is an essential component for utilisation of the crop.

“Ensuring grass varieties are bred and selected in an environment similar to where they will be sown is vital to ensure their performance can be realised,” she said.

‘Aber’ varieties top the PPI

Once again this year the “Aber” varieties are topping each category on the PPI.

A new intermediate tetraploid AberClyde is the highest variety overall on the PPI with a value of €206/ha per year.

AberMagic retains its position as top intermediate diploid (€199/ha per year).

AberGain is the highest-performing late tetraploid (€169/ha per year) and AberChoice is the highest-performing late diploid (€175/ha per year).

AberGain and AberChoice have remained top varieties in their categories since the PPI was first released. They continue to demonstrate excellent performance out on farms.

Each of these varieties is demonstrating excellent performance in the quality sub-indices. Drumbo is another late diploid with excellent values for quality in the PPI.

AberGain is the highest variety overall for quality on the PPI, while AberChoice is the second-best variety overall for quality, and the best diploid variety for quality in 2017.

“The Aber varieties such as AberGain and AberChoice, have been bred in west Wales and their performance on Irish farms and in the Teagasc PPI demonstrates their suitability to our growing conditions,” stated McEvoy. Click here for more information