L70 has established well during a challenging summer on the “Pondyong” property of Raeburn Rural at Meningie, in south-east South Australia.
Farm manager Jamie Gibbs said lucerne has traditionally been grown on the property and they moved onto L70 from their other varieties because it had a number of advantages, but was also similar in price.
The crop was sown in autumn of 2011 and the excellent germination of L70 (minimum germ 90 percent) helped it establish in conditions that were not ideal. Mr Gibbs said there was not a lot of rain over the summer and some of the L70 country was quite sandy. “It really toughed it out,” he said. The lucerne established well and provided two good grazings in late summer and early autumn.
“Autumn feed is when we generally struggle,” Mr Gibbs said. “It’s a nice stand at the moment,” he said. “Typical lucerne – it loves being grazed. We’ll continue to graze it right through. The paddock is part of a rotation and is generally grazed by Angus beef cattle every six to eight weeks. Mr Gibbs said the L70 showed an excellent ratio of stem to leaf and the plan was to cut it for hay if conditions during the season were favourable. “If you get some summer rain lucerne just kicks on,” he said.Jamie Gibbs of Meningie, SA
L70 lucerne replaced Aurora lucerne on the property of Gary Harrison, at Cohuna, in northern Victoria. Mr Harrison has been growing lucerne for more than 30 years and had been growing the Aurora variety for much of that time. Last year he decided to plant the L70 lucerne to some of the country to see how it would compare with his benchmark variety. “It’s looking really good so far,” Mr Harrison said. “We sowed it in the autumn on two different farms and different soil types. He said the soil types ranged from loamy country through to heavy clay and the L70 established well in all areas. The variety was chosen because it had some winter activity, and could therefore provide an earlier cut during spring. Mr Harrison said it established really well with good plant density and he had taken a second cut of hay off one of the areas by early November.
Small square bales for the premium hay market and large round bales for dairy farmers are generally produced from the area. “The lucerne is looking really good,” Mr Harrison said. “L70 seems just a bit better than Aurora. The hay quality was very good.” He said he expected to get five to six cuts off the stand over the course of the season and the lucerne should persist well for many years of high quality production. Good nutrition is one of the keys to the high yields with lime, gypsum, MAP and Potash used regularly for fertility and the lucerne is also watered twice between each cut. Mr Harrison said the first irrigation is conducted immediately after the hay is taken from the paddock and the second followed up in 14 days. He estimated this watering approach provided one-third more yield from the lucerne stands. L70 was introduced to the Australian market as an alternative to Aurora lucerne and has a better disease and pest resistance package and its superior genetics mean a higher leaf to stem ratio and therefore the opportunity for better quality forage.Gary Harrison, of Cohuna, in northern Victoria