Setting up for Spring | Beef + Lamb New Zealand
Feed Management

Setting up for Spring

Attention to pasture management now will pay dividends in spring when high-quality feed is required to realise the potential of next season’s lamb crop.
Thursday, 11 April 2019

Dryland legume autumn checklist

  1. Subterranean clover may have germinated.
  2. When they have three or four true leaves check to determine how anchored they are before grazing.
  3. Preferably graze with cattle.
  4. In areas where it hasn’t rained, use cows and or cows and calves to clear north and west-facing slopes.
  5. Direct-drill sub clover into paddocks to increase legume content.
  6. Spell lucerne paddocks before razing them hard in late May and spraying in June.

Professor Derrick Moot from Lincoln University says autumn rains may have germinated subterranean (sub) clover seedlings in dryland pastures along the east coast, but management of these seedlings will depend on how well-established they are.

Farmers in areas which received rain a month ago may have sub seedlings with three or four true leaves. These seedlings should be anchored in the ground, but Derrick recommends testing them by grabbing a seedling between the thumb and forefinger and giving it a pull.

If they pull out of the ground, they need to be left a little longer before the area can be grazed. If they break off, they can be grazed but preferably by cattle so that some leaves are left behind after grazing.

In areas which have only just received rain, seedlings should appear in the next few days.

For areas that have yet to receive rain, Derrick says it is important to continue to clear off north and west-facing slopes with cows and calves.

“The sub clover will still germinate and can provide excellent growth through April.”

He says at the Lincoln University dryland site, there has been very little rain until last weekend and they have only just started to see sub clover germinate in their pastures.

For farmers looking to lift the sub clover content in their pastures, last weekend’s rain provided an ideal opportunity to direct-drill sub into paddocks.

“Provided they have been hard-grazed, direct-drill 10kg/ha of a mix of two to three cultivars with different flowering dates.

“Manage these the same way you would with new seedlings on hill pastures.”

For areas that have yet to receive any rain, sub clover can still be drilled into dry pastures in anticipation of rain. These pastures will then provide high-quality feed in spring.

Unirrigated stands of lucerne have not had much growth in the past five weeks.

While they did provide some flushing and tupping feed in dry regions, they should now be left to rest after the recent rain and allowed to replenish underground reserves.

They should then be grazed hard in late May and sprayed in early June.

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