We talk to plant breeder Anthony Leddin about the benefits of Valley Seeds Diploid Annual Ryegrass variety Finefeed
Why a Diploid Annual Ryegrass?
In Australia, our climate and environment are very suited to annual ryegrass. Australian farmers are interested in diploid types because they are more suited to harder grazing than a tetraploid variety. Diploids also germinate quite fast, at the first break, and will generate a lot of feed by the winter period.
At the end of the season when you are comparing a diploid to a tetraploid, your diploid varieties produce finer leaves and higher quality forage, particularly for silage and hay.
In terms of feed throughout the season, how does Finefeed perform?
If farmers coming out of harsh summers don’t have any feed available they will be totally relying on these annuals. That means there will be a lot of grazing pressure put on them.
When it comes to grazing management, how does Finefeed stack up?
Especially in areas with drought, farmers will want to generate feed as quickly as possible at the break and will then need to graze their pasture quite hard.
Grazing management of Finefeed is less particular than with a tetraploid. And because it doesn’t lodge as easily, there will be plenty of standing feed for hay and silage at the end of the season.
What kind of climate suits Finefeed best?
In breeding Finefeed, I tried to create a combination of two genetic pools. One was material from northern Australia, suited to growing in hotter type climates and with a greater rust resistance. I combined that with a genetic pool from the southern part of Australia which is more adapted to growing in colder conditions and has a broader leaf. By combining those two, we have a variety that is suitable for hot conditions that you experience up north or colder conditions experienced in the southern states. It suits locations right down the eastern seaboard and over to the west as well.We call the variety Finefeed because all diploid types are finer in the leaf than tetraploids.
How do annuals, and Finefeed in particular, compare to Italians?
With the effects of the variable climate that we are experiencing, annual ryegrasses are the backbone of pasture systems with low to medium rainfall and or areas with early or unreliable spring finishes. Ryegrasses produce 60% of their forage yield around their heading date. This makes annual ryegrasses more likely to reach their genetic potential than Italians in such environments. They finish their growth just as the soils start drying out which means they really match the growing conditions we have in Australia.
Finefeed is a really good choice for farmers needing feed that starts quickly and can be grazed hard or turned into hay and silage. In addition to this, it flowers a bit later than a Tetila so if the season does carry on you can take advantage of that.