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L56 Lucerne
Farmer's Feedback
Seed Distributors - Science based pasture®
Stuart Conochie - L56 Lucerne

L56 lucerne is being used to produce high quality silage on the Conochie family property at Kalbar, in the Fassifern Valley region of Queensland. Stuart Conochie said they planted L56 in the autumn of 2012 and were able to harvest it for round bale silage in spring and throughout the summer. Silage worked particularly well on the property by providing an option to store the forage and utilise it at other times of the season. Mr Conochie said the lucerne provided between 30 and 40 round bales per acre per cut and the first lot harvested was fed out to the dairy cows within two months. He said the semi-winter dormant L56 lucerne was a lot finer in the stem than a winter active alternative they had planted at the same time, although the yields of both were very similar. The Jersey cows graze kikuyu grass in the mornings and at night and use the lucerne round bale silage through the heat of the day. Bales of silage are put in racks in the shade and provide an opportunity for the cows to feed during the heat of the day.

At that time of the year grazing is not a great option. “They just don’t eat when they are out in the hot sun”. He said the cows were milking well on the feed and the Jerseys regularly averaged 19.5 litres per day in a very good result through the middle of summer. Lucerne silage is used primarily for its high protein with grain, at five or six kilograms per day, also added to the ration for energy. Mr Conochie said the L56 was inundated with water after heavy rainfall in January of 2013 and came through the event well. He said the lucerne was grown on the flat country on heavier soil types so the pest and disease resistance of L56 will assist it in persisting over the seasons. Lucerne is generally grown over a three year period and then oversown with ryegrass in the final season. The silage is cut every three to four weeks to ensure maximum yield and quality is maintained. “We try to cut it as soon as it is in flower,” Mr Conochie said. “We are really after the quality because we are feeding it out to the cows. You can tell the difference if lucerne is cut a bit later. The cows don’t eat as much.”

Stuart Conochie, Kalbar, Fassifern Valley, Queensland

Sandy Jelbart - L56 Lucerne

L56 has proved the best multi-purpose lucerne on the property of Sandy Jelbart at Carngham, west of Ballarat, in the western districts of Victoria. Mr Jelbart said he was particularly impressed with L56 because it suited a range of soil types and had excellent pest and disease resistance. He said the variety was particularly good on heavier soils and was utilised for both hay and grazing throughout the summer. “I like to get a good cut of hay and then lots of grazings throughout the summer,” he said. “It is such a tonic for young sheep. I believe it to be the best multi-purpose lucerne.” L56 was planted to a 22 acre paddock in 2009 and then a 25 acre paddock in October of 2012, with both areas impressing with the pureness of the stand and the amount of production.

In 2012 the early planted L56 was cut for hay in December, with the 22 acre area producing 145 rolls of lucerne. “The hay-making conditions this year were terrific”. He said they dropped it and left it cure before raking it in front of the baler. The paddock was then closed up for a period of four weeks and then grazed by 750 weaner merino lambs for a month. Mr Jelbart said the production from the area was very impressive in summer conditions that saw little to no rainfall over the period. The dry conditions continued through until mid-February when the paddocks received a 40mm downpour from a storm and responded well to the additional moisture. Within two weeks the lucerne had reached a height of approximately 15cm and was able to be grazed into autumn. The hay cut earlier in the season was utilised in the dry summer conditions and provided a valuable source of protein to the sheep at a time where there wasn’t any feed available from other sources. Mr Jelbart said the paddock of L56 sown down in October last year was given two heavy grazings across the summer and responded well. He said he didn’t slash the area but instead put the 750 weaners into the paddock.

Sandy Jelbart at Carngham, west of Ballarat, in the western districts of Victoria

Graeme Stewart - L56 Lucerne
The 36 hectare pivot of L56 lucerne produced 18.5 t/ha of hay through until the end of February this season and was expected to achieve well above the goal of 20 t/ha. “L56 is the main variety we grow, It suits our sandy soil types. The high yields are achieved with excellent cutting, water and fertiliser management. Paddock preparation with an application of lime is also very important. This season the best from a single cut was around Christmas with a 2.1 t/acre (5.2 t/ha) yield. The L56 lucerne is sold and made into chaff and produces hay of a very high quality.
Graeme Stewart, Berrigan, NSW
Peter Joliffe - L56 Lucerne
Forty hectares of L56 under a pivot has performed very well since being planted in May, 2005. The crop was harvested for silage in late September and taken for hay a number of times through the summer. In the 2006/07 season it again produced an early silage cut and four hay cuts through to late February on a schedule of 28 to 30 days. Yields of 1.1 to 1.2 t/acre (2.7 to 3 t/ha) were achieved each cut. L56 was chosen because of the variable soil type of the paddock. Its superior disease resistance will assist the survival of the stand in the tighter, wetter areas.
Peter Joliffe, Wagga Wagga, NSW
David Cloros - L56 Lucerne
L56 lucerne was chosen to plant in 2005 after going through a range of options thoroughly with an agronomist. It was sown in August and established well providing four hay cuts in the first year.“It has performed a lot better than anything else we’ve had before,” David Cloros said. This season the L56 yielded 4 t/ha on the first cut and 3 t/ha on each the next three cuts. Hay quality has never been a problem with the best of the hay sent to race horse markets in Sydney. The race horse industry is very particular and there have been no problems. Greater attention is also being paid to water and nutrition management.
David Cloros, Wagga Wagga, NSW
David Wallace - L56 Lucerne
“L56 is the majority of our irrigated hay acres because it gives us good reliable yields and consistently produces the high quality hay we need for our chaff business. L56 gives us a wider harvest window – we can cut at 28 to 34 day intervals and still get good quality hay, which helps manage weather problems. Even after 4 years of intensive hay production, our L56 blocks still have high density plant stands.”
David Wallace, Quirindi NSW
"I'm very happy with our L56 crop" - L56 Lucerne
It “did it tough” when it was coming up last spring, but it came through and we now have a good thick stand right across the paddock. It holds onto its leaf well, even when we are late cutting, due to wet weather this summer. It is producing the high quality hay demanded by our chaff mill customer.”
Chris McNamara, Carroll NSW
Peter Hemphill - L56 Lucerne
L56 lucerne produced one cut of silage and up to five cuts of hay during the season with an overall average of approximately 3 t/ha per cut. The big square hay bales are taken back to the dairy. The thing I like about this stuff is if you don’t water it, it doesn’t die.
Peter Hemphill, Kyabram, Victoria
Simon Tourle - L56 Lucerne
The L56 lucerne provided high forage yields and feed quality for their beef fattening operation. “The other big benefit of the lucerne in our farm operation and the overall farm profitability is the versatility of the L56. “You can use it as a grazed forage – and it is definitely the best quality forage. Or you can conserve it as hay or silage if you have plenty of feed available. Mr Tourle said the L56 (and L55 before it) always produce good quality hay that is readily saleable to local buyers including nearby horse studs.
Simon Tourle, Qurindi, NSW
Graham HawL56 Lucerne an excellent option for Stanhope grower - L56 Lucerne
Goldstrike L56 lucerne has proved to be an excellent option with good yields under a range of conditions on the property of Graham Haw, at Stanhope, in the Goulburn Valley. Mr Haw has an eight hectare paddock of L56 lucerne which is into its third season and has been producing excellent quality hay and silage. The paddock was initially planted in August three years ago on the promise of rain but was watered up in October after the weather remained dry. “We watered the bare ground and it went away from that,” he said. The stand provided six cuts of hay and silage the next season and used 52 megalitres of water, at an average of 6.5 megalitres per hectare. Mr Haw said the crop should have had an extra two watering over the season, but it hung on well in the drier conditions. A seventh cut could also be an option over the summer if conditions are suited. The L56 lucerne variety is a semi-winter dormant type so can extend the season into autumn. Mr Haw said lucerne was quite versatile as it could be harvested for hay or silage, and he was able to sell the forage to a neighbour who was milking more than 500 cows. Silage was an excellent option when rain was forecast as the forage could be wrapped into a bale within two days of it being cut down. The yields from the L56 vary throughout the season, although yields of up to 3.5 tonnes per hectare have been achieved from a single cut. “Quality has been very good,” Mr Haw said. “Last year we did a feed test on the lucerne and it was excellent.” Fertiliser is spread over the paddock after the first cut with a rate of 200 kilograms per hectare used to apply a blend of super, potash and urea. Mr Haw said the paddock had been used by cows at night for many decades and, as a result, there was a lot of humus matter in the soil. Soil tests conducted came back very positive so the fertiliser is used just once during the season to top-up the nutrients taken away. The first cut is normally taken in early October with the remaining cuts at monthly intervals or as the weather conditions will allow. “Lucerne gives us options right through until early autumn,” Mr Haw said.
Graham Haw of Stanhope, in the Goulburn Valley
Phillip BowmanExcellent hay cuts achieved out of dryland L56 Lucerne - L56 Lucerne
A dryland paddock of lucerne provided a cut of hay in its first season and at least two in its second for Phillip Bowman of Furner in South Australia. Mr Bowman planted the Goldstrike L56 lucerne into a 12.5 hectare paddock in August, 2008 and cut 28 tonnes of hay off it early in the new year. He said the lucerne germinated well but endured a hot windy spring before two and a half inches of rain in December helped the crop produce a hay cut. The hay was made into 8 x 4 x 3 foot big square bales and a feed test recorded excellent quality with 21 percent protein and between 9 and 10 percent energy. Mr Bowman said it was A1 hay and he soon found buyers for the product. The paddock was grazed with sheep during the autumn and winter, treated with Sprayseed for weed control and then took advantage of good rainfall during the spring. The first cut of the 2009/10 season occurred on November 13 and produced a yield of 56 tonnes. Good seasonal conditions continued and a month later the stand was ready to cut again. Mr Bowman said he had initially put in the lucerne to fatten lambs, however the excellent growth had allowed him to harvest hay from the block. The paddock received 2.5 tonnes per hectare of compost a month before sowing which was incorporated with the sandy type soil. Up to three weeks were spent on paddock preparation to ensure the lucerne stand received the best possible start and achieve a long-term result. “We’ve had other lucernes and it you look after them and manage them properly they can last a lifetime,” Mr Bowman said. In its first year Mr Bowman ran over the stand with a mower to promote new growth, prior to the rain that fell in December. Single super fertiliser and kelp has been used through the two seasons for nutrition to promote plant growth. Mr Bowman said the hay was made into big squares for ease of transport and he was also placing some undercover to sell at a later date. “Storing in the shed is a good option.” He said the L56 lucerne stand had been very impressive in its first two seasons and he looked forward to excellent results for many years to come.
Phillip Bowman, South Australia
Andrew EatherL56 meeting chaff needs - L56 Lucerne
“We’re full-time lucerne hay producers and need a variety that can meet the requirements of local chaff mills, Hunter Valley Horse Studs, produce store retailers and local horse owners. We planted several varieties for evaluation and then chose L56 for this year’s plantings because it gave us good yields, holds on to its leaf and hangs on in tough conditions. L56 gives us the flexibility we need with haymaking timing and our multiple end markets”
Andrew Eather, Tamworth NSW
Graeme LeirschLucerne performing well on reduced water allocations - L56 Lucerne
Lucerne has performed particularly well under reduced water allocations on the property of Graeme Leirsch at Echuca in northern Victoria. Mr Leirsch planted the Goldstrike L56 lucerne in the autumn and winter of 2006 and has had to work with less than ideal water rights since that time. The water allocations have been cut down to less than 50 percent in recent seasons and led to just two lucerne cuts during the 2008/09 summer. “Most of the lucerne was not irrigated from November onwards and has done remarkably well,” Mr Leirsch said. The lucerne is under a pivot and was planted at a rate of 16 kilograms per hectare over soil types that range from tinnering fine sandy soil to dark heavy clay on the flats. L56 has proved a good option on the varied soil types and has held on well through a lack of irrigation and the severe heat of February, 2009. Mr Leirsch said the stand was still producing well and would last at least six years over very trying conditions. The lucerne is cut for hay each year and produced good quality forage that fills a variety of end markers including horses. L56 is a semi-winter dormant variety and, with the relatively mild winters over a number of years, has continued to grow through the cooler conditions. Last season the stand was grazed with lambs over the winter and provided some valuable feed. The reduced water allocations are normally used early in the season as the stand comes out of spring and produces two to three good cuts. Mr Leirsch said he was able to cut the lucerne every four weeks and would get six cuts per years if full water allocations were restored. “We normally follow on from spring and take the water as far as it can go,” he said. “Once you’ve committed your funds you’ve got to make the most of it.” He said lucerne had also been grown under dryland conditions on the previous farm and had impressed with its ability to hang on.
Graeme Leirsch, Echuca, northern Victoria
Bill RowettPlanting gamble works out well for Marrabel grower - L56 Lucerne
A decision described as the biggest gamble of his life has worked out well for Bill Rowett, of Marrabel, in the north-east of South Australia. Mr Rowett planted 32 hectares of Goldstrike L56 lucerne on December 12 last season after three inches of rain. Dry conditions earlier in the year meant the lucerne could not be sown at a more optimum time in September. “It was the biggest gamble I’ve ever taken,” Mr Rowett said. “It came off and it is where I wanted to be.” The dryland block was sown at a rate of 4.5 kilograms per hectare into 22.5cm spacings and established well through the summer. Severe heat towards the end of January and into February was of great concern until 20mm of rain at the end of the period helped to save the crop. Mr Rowett said they lost a few plants but the result was a magnificent stand of lucerne. “After the 20mm of rain in February it was at the stage it needed to be,” he said. Shortly afterwards lambs were put on the paddock for grazing and had access to good quality feed through the late autumn and winter period. Approximately 1000 sheep grazed the 32 hectare paddock at any one time. “I want the sheep to graze it as quickly as they can and make sure they don’t flog out the shorter stuff,” Mr Rowett said. The livestock were taken off the paddock in late July with the crop sprayed for grass weeds in August and then locked up for hay production. Mr Rowett said the paddock also contained clover from a previous crop and the pasture mix produced high yields of excellent quality hay. He estimated yields of approximately 6 tonnes per hectare from the paddock. The forage was made into big square bales with some weighing 830 kilograms and sent to a range of different markets. Test results taken from the hay produced an excellent protein content of 22 percent. Mr Rowett said the more dormant L56 lucerne was ideal as a long-term prospect on the property. The more dormant varieties tend to be more persistent than the winter active types although L56 does offer some growth during the cooler months. “There was some nice pick from the lucerne if I needed it through winter,” Mr Rowett said. He said L56 withstood the grazing very well and also came back after the hay cut. The favourable seasonal conditions in late 2009 meant a second hay cut during the year may have been possible.
Bill Rowett of Marrabel in the north-east of South Australia
Bill RowettJason Fry - L56 Lucerne
L56 has proved to be the ideal dryland lucerne option on the property of Jason Fry, at Bunyip, in the Gippsland region of Victoria.  The L56 lucerne is in its third season of production since replacing pasture and being sown to a small paddock in October,  2009.  Mr Fry said the first year of production provided one silage cut and was also cut for small square hay bales in January. Part of the paddock was affected by the bushfire in February, but bounced back the following season. During the 2009/2010 summer the lucerne was cut for silage once and then provided a further three cuts which were all converted to small square hay bales. Mr Fry said the yields from the dryland block varied with the weather with the best return being 120 small square bales per acre (just under 300 bales per hectare) from one cut.  The subsequent cuts were smaller in number due to the conditions but still provided hay of a very good quality.“ L56 hay quality is very good,” Mr Fry said. “It is not all that stalky and has a lot of leaf.”
Jason Fry, Bunyip, Vic
Bill RowettL56 Lucerne - a good all-rounder - L56 Lucerne
The L56 lucerne variety was chosen as a good “all-rounder” on the property of Mark Vandeleur at Tintinara in the south-east of South Australia. Mr Vandeleur said he was keen to try a different variety that provided some grazing options through the winter and last for a longer time than more winter active lucernes. He planted L56 in the autumn of 2010 and achieved good early germination with the crop coming away very well. The lucerne produced a bulk of feed through the spring and summer. The property is the home to Rice's Creek Poll Merino Stud and cattle also form a major part of the enterprise. Mr Vandeleur said the main purpose of the dryland L56 block will be to provide grazing for sheep and cattle through autumn and winter and opportunity hay when there are good seasonal conditions.
Mark Vandeleur, Tintinara SA
Bill RowettGreater persistence with L56 at Byee - L56 Lucerne
The ability of L56 lucerne to handle water logged conditions has made it the lucerne of choice on the property of Garney and Warren Harch at Byee, near Margon in the Burnett region of Queensland. Garney Harch said much of the property was made up of heavy black soil, and a variety with good pest and disease resistance was important for the longevity of the stand. The property would typically have 60 to 80 hectares of lucerne in any given year, with each crop harvested for four years before being rotated with sorghum and then returned to lucerne. Mr Harch said L56 handled the water logged conditions better than other varieties they had tried and also produced hay of a very high quality. He said L56 also established quicker than another variety they had planted and produced a stand that was significantly thicker - leading to higher yields over the life of the lucerne. Under good seasonal conditions the L56 has produced up to eight cuts per year with yields of between 100 and 120 bales per cut, per hectare. This equates to approximately 20 DM t/ha per year.
Garney & Warren Harch, Byee QLD.
Bill RowettL56 an ideal option for high quality hay production - L56 Lucerne
L56 has proven to be an excellent option for producing high quality hay on the property of Andrew Maher of Dean, north of Ballarat in central Victoria. Mr Maher has approximately 60 hectares of irrigated lucerne on the property which is used for hay production and feeding of prime lambs. L56 forms a major part of the lucerne enterprise due to its high yields and ability to produce a quality product. Mr Maher said he has been using the variety for the past three years with the latest planting in October of 2010. He said L56 produced hay of a nice green colour and has yielded particularly well, producing bales of a consistent weight which are in demand by customers. Much of the hay produced is sold in small square bales to horse markets which demand high quality premium lucerne. L56 also has some winter activity which allows grazing options for prime lambs through the autumn and winter months.
Andrew Maher, Dean VIC.
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