“Dairy, sheep and beef producers could see some real benefits from growing this leafy catch crop,” says Limagrain UK’s forage crop manager Martin Titley. “It has a flexible sowing period, from May until the end of August, and is sown either by direct drilling or broadcasting seed. And only minimal cultivation is needed after cereals, making it one of the cheaper forage crops to grow.
He points out that one of the greatest benefits of this crop is its versatility when it comes to feeding. “Not only does it grow quickly, but it can fill the forage gap through autumn and winter and can be utilised when you need it”
According to Kingshay figures, forage rape costs £408 per hectare to grow, making it one of the cheaper forage crop options. “But the crop will reliably yield 30 tonnes of fresh feed per hectare,” adds Mr Titley. “And based on our field trials, that include 12 years’ worth of consecutive yield data, the crude protein content of forage rape and its hybrids is among the best of any forage crop at 19% to 20%. It has an energy value of 10 to 11MJ/kg DM.
Sowing forage rape with stubble turnips is also very popular – and this will also add to the crop’s winter hardiness, and keep the stubble turnips protected from frost damage. The variety Hobson is used very successfully here for finishing lambs as it is very palatable and highly resistant to powdery mildew.”
If the crop is required for autumn and winter feeding for dairy and sheep then the fast growing hybrid variety Interval is highly popular. It establishes very quickly and has dry matter yield 10% higher than the control variety in Limagrain UK’s trials, and again is highly resistant to powdery mildew.
“Forage rape and rape kale hybrids will also grow in poorer soils and on exposed sites too,” adds Mr Titley. “In fact, most crops can make a valuable contribution to the supply of home grown forages.”