Date: October 2023

As we have surely all experienced this year the catchy weather in July and August put the brakes on the harvest of our small grass seed multiplications (polycrosses) which form the basis of potential new varieties. Some years the job has been completed before August, this year the very last lot was gathered in on the 16th of August. Still I am glad that it was not the 40⁰c experienced last year as this crop is all cut by hand-sickle within a field of very well lodged rye.

On the other hand the weather has been good for grass growth in our trial plots with the exception of the June dry spell, it has been nice to see lush fields of green and the trial plot harvester working hard. DSV Wardington is a host site for the grass and clover variety and recommended list trials and higher yields in the plots helps to identify the best performing potential new varieties. We have noticed that this year white clover has been enjoying the conditions, far too well, with levels of clover in our mixed plots now approaching 90% (the target is not more than 50%). I wonder how much this is observed up and down the country, let us know if you also have problems with too much clover out there, and how do you tackle it?

DSV enjoyed success in the 2023/24 England and Wales recommended list, with two out five new varieties coming from the DSV breeding programmes. The diploid Italian ryegrass “Doluga” has the highest yielding energy yield from the first two main silage cuts for this type, a very important feature in an Italian ryegrass. In the perennial ryegrasses we welcome the addition of “Goldwell” to the intermediate diploid group. Goldwell is a nice all-rounder but particularly suited to inclusion in a medium to long term grazing ley mixture with 105% grazing yield and excellent persistence (104% yield in the last cutting year).

Looking forward I am excited to visit our station in Asendorf, Germany for the closing event of the CATCHY research project. Running for nearly a decade the project has been investing the effects of catch crops within the crop rotation with a special focus on soil structure, water balance, nutrient cycling and the microbiome.