BRASSICAS

Brassicas Introduction 2017-01-13T15:52:55+00:00

Irish farms have a natural climatic advantage over the rest of Europe and most of the western world in terms of utilising Brassicas as low cost forage crops for their livestock.

With prices for agricultural produce becoming ever more volatile and the global economy in freefall there is an urgent need for increased efficiencies and cost reductions at all levels in agriculture. Farmers, Agri merchants & Food processors must become more efficient.

Irish farms have a natural climatic advantage over the rest of Europe and most of the western world in terms of utilising Brassicas as low cost forage crops for their livestock. With the exception of a small scale revival in the last few years, Brassicas represent an opportunity that has been missed and we have had the expansion & development of crops such as Forage Maize which are inherently far more suited to our continental neighbours.

The grazing of Brassica crops during the winter months as an integral part of an extended grazing programme is a common practice for New Zealand livestock farmers with similar climatic conditions to this country.

We are convinced that growing the likes of kale, can play an important role in terms of cost savings on Irish farms when grown & utilised properly. Like all successful crop growing “the devil is in the detail” and we have had various demonstrations days and trial plots set up where we achieved phenomenal Dry matter yields and demonstrated the true potential of brassica crops.

THE OPTIONS

KALE

From mid-May until early July, Kale is the best option. It can produce up to 13tonne of DM per hectare. Needs a nicely cultivated seedbed which can be achieved without ploughing. Requires at least 2 bags of 18-6-12 and up to 2 bags of CAN as a topdressing. Kale sown in June, will require a pre-emerge (within 48hours after sowing) application of Butisan S for weed control. After June, weed pressure will be reducing and once crops are thick enough, weeds are usually smothered out.

REDSTART

Redstart is a rather new addition to the fodder crops and is probably our favourite because you can sow it up to end of July and still get good yield. It’s a cross between kale and rape and processes part of the yield potential of kale and the rapid growth of rape. Sometimes it’s not very practical to take out a field in May to sow kale, and therefore redstart mid July may be a better option. Fits in perfectly after winter barley. Was very popular last year and worked out very well. Requires 1 to 2 bags of 18-6-12 and 1 to 2 bags of CAN as a topdressing.

FORAGE RAPE

From Aug 1st on, Forage Rape is your best option. Weather depending, can grow yield of up to 8tonne of DM per hectare. Excellent option after spring cereals crops. Sow with 1 bpa of 18-6-12 and topdress with 1 bag of CAN. Sow up to Sept 1st, after that date its ability to cover costs are debatable.

Seedrate (Broadcast): Kale 3kg, Redstart & Rape 4kg per acre

TURNIPS

Swedes or stubble turnips are really only suited to sheep, but a good crop of Swedes can out yield any of the above options, along with it also been an abundant source of energy. Sow swedes from June 1st on.