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Q31 Lucerne
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Graham OsbourneQ31 lucerne impresses at Virginia in South Australia - Q31 Lucerne

A new stand of Q31 lucerne has impressed haymaker Daryl Nichol of Virginia, north of Adelaide in South Australia. Mr Nichol purchased a tonne of the Q31 seed to fill a 15 acre strip in spring last season. In the past he had good results from 54Q53 lucerne and decided to try Q31 as the replacement variety. “Q31 was nice and fine and produced a very heavy crop," Mr Nichol said. The first hay cut of Q31 lucerne was taken in big round bales and was followed up by two subsequent cuts of smaller square bales. Mr Nichol said both cuts produced yields of approximately 1400 small bales over 15 acres of Q31, with each bale weighing approximately 30 kilometres.

The yield was the equivalent bale weight of approximately 2.8 tonnes per acre for each cut is a tremendous result for the first year of production. Hay was cut from the paddock a fourth time in early March, with a possibility of a subsequent cut later in the season if weather conditions were conducive. The majority of the hay produced on the property is sold to produce stores or directly to people in the horse market. Mr Nichol said hay quality had to be very good to be sold into the horse market and he had found Q31 a very good option. “It has good leaf retention and the stems are nice and fine and not stalky,” he said. “The horse market likes leafy hay and good staygreen in the bale.

Q31 has good colour retention.” He said the results from Q31 this season meant it will replace 54Q53 as the hay of choice on the property. “54Q53 was a good performer but I think I will be planting more of Q31 from now on.” Mr Nichol said the winter dormancy of both varieties seemed similar and should lead to many years of production from Q31. In the past 54Q53 would last for six or seven seasons and provide at least five good hay cuts per year. A similar result is expected from Q31 into the future.

Daryl and Maurice Nichol, Virginia, SA
Cameron and Joe Grundy - Q31 Lucerne

The introduction of Q31 lucerne on the property of Cameron Grundy, north of Naracoorte, in the southeast of South Australia, has provided the opportunity to target the specialised chaff market. Mr Grundy planted Q31 under a pivot four years ago and has utilised the variety to supply a chaff enterprise in the Adelaide Hills. “We put it into round bales at 18 to 20 per cent moisture.” He said the stems tended to chaff better at that moisture and the end user also didn’t have to steam it which was a common practice with other varieties. The chaff is used to supply fodder stores in South Australia and, in turn, is sold as feed for race horses. Mr Grundy said the chaffer was very pleased with the performance of Q31. “He said it makes the best lucerne that he’s ever chaffed. “It certainly has a good fine stem and good leaf to stem ratio.

Just like the brochure said, it holds onto its leaf well.” Q31 has been grown on the property for the past four seasons and will generally provide yields of between four and five tonnes per hectare from a single cut. The lucerne is normally cut once a month and produces a minimum of four cuts per season and occasionally a fifth cut. Although it is predominantly summer active, the stand also provides valuable feed across the winter period and, last season, was grazed by ram stud lambs. “It gave them a real shot in the arm when they needed it through the winter,” Mr Grundy said. “For my money it is just as good during the winter months.” Q31 was planted specifically to fill the chaff market although it also has been exported to Japan. Mr Grundy said the bales that went to Japan were individually identified and the report came back that they were particularly palatable and produced better butter fat and protein through the dairy cows. A typical program with the Q31 lucerne is to graze it during winter and then provide a chemical clean in early spring before the first cut approximately a month later. A three in one granular fertiliser and a foliar spray made up of numerous elements is applied to the lucerne approximately a week after each cut and does an excellent job of producing high yields and quality produce.

Cameron and Joe Grundy, Naracoorte, South Australia
Daniel Hammond - Q31 Lucerne

Q31 lucerne has been introduced onto a Bulmer Farm Fresh Vegetables property, at Lindenow, in east Gippsland, Victoria, following flood damage to help promote good soil structure and provide an additional income stream. Daniel Hammond said they had 750 acres of area with much of it cropped to vegetables three to four times a year. He said that involved a lot of bed forming and so lucerne was an ideal crop to rest the ground without cultivation for three years. “It makes the soil much more friable,” he said. Last season a 12 hectare area of Q31 lucerne was planted in late October. The paddock had previously contained a broccoli crop which was flooded out in June. Mr Hammond said the Q31 was sown at a rate of 22 kilograms per hectare and established very well to produce 100 bales of round bale silage in the first cut which was sold to local dairy farmers.

The 12 acres then produced 1000 small square bales of hay in the second cut, with that forage sold directly off the paddock. “It was still quite fine in the stalk and has a lot of leaf on it”. He said the amount of nutrition leftover from the vegetables could be quite considerable and had caused some other lucerne varieties to thicken out in the stalk. This was not the case with the Q31 variety. During the first three months of the lucerne production there was very little rainfall and the crop relied on irrigation water to survive. Mr Hammond said lucerne had some advantages because it could hold on well if they were on water restrictions or, for some reason, were unable to irrigate the crop. He said lucerne provided some turnover when resting the ground from vegetables and will likely play an important part of the rotation going forward. They expected to replace any areas of lucerne taken out with a similar sized planting to ensure there was around 30 acres of the crop in at any one time. “You can put the lucerne in and you can still make money,” Mr Hammond said. As well as helping by improving soil structure, the crop also assists in preventing soil diseases which can become a problem in vegetable crops. It is estimated lucerne will be grown for three years before the area is rotated back to vegetables and will also

Daniel Hammond, Lindenow, in east Gippsland, Victoria
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