Recommended grass and clover lists (RGCL) are drawn up after rigorous trials and testing which focus on attributes such as yield, persistency, quality and disease resistance. Data obtained from these independent trials is then evaluated and assessed by a panel of experts who will accept or decline a variety depending on its overall ability to contribute to grassland farming. As new varieties come on to the list, older, poorer-performing species will be removed. This ensures that only the best varieties are on the lists.
Research indicates that pastures with a low proportion of perennial ryegrass are costing beef producers up to £250/ha per year due to a loss of grass dry matter (DM) production and reduced nitrogen use efficiency during the growing season. It is estimated reseeding costs approximately £600/ha and so the increased profitability of the reseeded pasture would cover the reseeding cost in just over two years. This means that reseeding is one of the most cost-effective on-farm investments.
The RGCL allows producers to interpret data gathered from the independent trials and make more informed decisions when reseeding. The work done by grass breeders throughout the UK remains vital in bringing grassland farmers to the fore in terms of producing home-grown forages and optimising animal performance from grass and forage-based diets. The RGCL is an essential tool to ensure that these varieties are selected correctly to suit individual needs and specific on-farm requirements.
Spring reseeds have not had the best start due to a lack of rainfall, with only 10% of average rainfall recorded over the last five weeks. In the coming months, producers can assess the grazing platform and note where sward production is poor. An autumn reseed may be a viable option where the spring reseed has not been a success or for those who see some room for improvement over the summer. The RGCL should be used when choosing grass and clover species to suit the system. The 2017/18 RGCL is due to be launched at the Grassland & Muck event in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire on the 24 and 25 of May. It includes the addition of 11 new ryegrass and one new red clover variety to the list.