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Perun Festulolium
Farmer's Feedback
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Perun Festulolium Farmer's Feedback

Ryegrass trial helping students at Tafe - Perun Tetrapolid Festulolium Ryepress

A series of ryegrass trials at the TAFE campus at Taree, in north-east New South Wales, helped students with their pasture renovation course last year. TAFE teacher, Laurie Gallagher, said the students were completing a Certificate 3 for pastures and as part of that were able to prepare, sow and utilise the ryegrass feed. The paddock was planted on May 30 and consisted of three blend options with Jivet Tetraploid Annual Italian Ryegrass, Jeta Hybrid Tetraploid Long Rotation Ryegrass and Perun Tetraploid Festulolium all mixed with Renegade red clover and Turbo Persian clover.

Mr Gallagher said he was particularly keen to see the performance of Perun after initially inspecting a paddock of the species on a property at Dubbo. He also saw it at a field day and made contact with Seed Distributors area sales manager, Paul Sippel, to determine its suitability for the coastal region. That led to the trial and also some talks conducted by Mr Sippel to the TAFE students. Mr Gallagher said the students prepared the paddock and sprayed it off before the three blends were planted and then they took dry matter tests later in the season before it was grazed by the TAFE cattle. He said the dry matter was taken on July 27, approximately two months after planting, with Jivet recording 10 per cent DM and Perun and Jeta a little higher at 14 per cent.

Immediately afterwards the area was grazed and provided good feed through the late winter and into spring. The area was mulched down in late November.“It was all done in conjunction with the lessons,” Mr Gallagher said.  “Hopefully it is something we can keep going.” A similar trial is planned for next year and will provide the students, which include dairy, school age, farmers and people wanting to get into the agricultural industry, with valuable experience in pasture production. Mr Gallagher said he particularly liked the look of the Perun Festulolium and thought it had a good place in the coastal conditions of Taree. He said the area had a lot of competition from Kikuyu grass and saw Perun as an option to compete with that species over the summer period. With a dairy and rural merchandise background, Mr Gallagher said the hands-on work with the students was vital.“I like doing the trial work,” he said.

TAFE campus, Taree, NSW

Damien Maloney - Perun Tetrapolid Festulolium Ryepress

A number of ryegrass options have proved to be the ideal rotational tool with potatoes on the property of Ray and Damien Maloney at Southern Cross, east of Koroit, in the Western Districts of Victoria. Damien Maloney said they grew potatoes for four to five years and were looking at pasture options that would give them a similar number of years and provide options for grazing, silage and hay. Perun Festulolium was planted to an area immediately after the potatoes were harvested in March and was grazed by lambs four to five times before being cut for silage in the spring. Mr Maloney said the timing of the sowing was ideal because the crop could take advantage of the warmer soil conditions in autumn. “It didn’t take long to be grazed,” he said. “The lambs went really well on it. 

We grazed it very heavily at one stage but then it got away from us. “We didn’t know what to do so we decided to see if someone would like it for silage.” A seven hectare area of Perun Festulolium produced 73 bales of forage through the spring. Mr Maloney said they could have also taken a hay cut from the area if they had fertilised it immediately after the silage bales were removed. The area had been planted at a rate of 25 kilograms per hectare but was not irrigated during the season. Irrigation water is saved for the vegetable crops. In another area on the property, a blend of ryegrasses and clover also proved successful as a long-term break crop for potatoes. Potatoes were grown in the area through until May with the blend consisting of Impact Long Rotation ryegrass, Drylander Perennial ryegrass, Hatrik sub clover, Ovaflow sub clover and Enduro balansa clover. Mr Maloney said the blend was planted at a rate of 25 kilograms per hectare and emerged well in spite of the later plant. It was used as a grazing option through late winter and spring.  It was then locked up and cut for hay in mid-November. “It was very thick with all the clover underneath.  We had a contractor come in and cut it for us.” Both pasture options have been designed as long-term propositions and are expected to provide four to five years of production before the paddocks are rotated back to potatoes.

Damien Maloney, of Southern Cross, east of Koroit, in the Western Districts

Chris Houghton - Perun Tetrapolid Festulolium Ryepress

An area of Perun Festulolium, sown in spring, produced excellent feed over summer and autumn on the property of Chris Houghton, at Crookwell, in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales. Mr Houghton said the grass was planted in September on the back of a wet spring and he was amazed at how well it established. “It just went berserk,” he said.  The area was grazed in mid-January with approximately 200 sheep feeding off the four hectare area for a period ofkalbar three weeks. “It just showed me what it could do,” Mr Houghton said.  “It went like steam and grew to its potential. The livestock were sent to a nearby brassica crop and the area of Perun showed excellent regrowth, to be available for another graze eight weeks later. Mr Houghton said Perun provided three solid grazings through until winter time and it was pushed hard during the summer and autumn period. It compared favourable to the nearby brassica crop which had struggled with the wet spring conditions and didn’t produce the quantity or quality of Perun. “Perun was a cheaper option with better feed quality,” Mr Houghton said. “If I get the moisture I’d get as much production out of Perun as I would have out of a brassica crop.” He said the flexibility of the variety was a key to its success, with its ability to sit there and wait for favourable seasonal conditions or a nitrogen application. During the spring of 2012, the Perun received nitrogen at a rate of 120 kilograms per hectare just prior to a rainfall event. “It jumped very quickly.  I see it as a highly responsive species and a flexible option,” Mr Houghton said.

The Perun was initially sown at a rate of 20 kilograms per hectare and included white clover at 2 kilograms per hectare. This rate and the excellent establishment meant it competed very well with weeds. “The paddock is as clean as a whistle,” Mr Houghton said. He said stock took to the feed readily and showed a preference to it over native grasses and other species that were prevalent at the edge of the paddock and along laneways. The longevity of Perun is also a positive on the property with the area expected to last between three to five years. “I’m treating it like a medium term ryegrass,” Mr Houghton said. He said the ability to plant the grass in spring was a real asset and something he though could become a more regular option in future years. “I’m convinced that even in a dry spring I could get it established,” he said. Chris Houghton, of Crookwell in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, inspecting a crop of Perun Festulolium in the early establishment phase.

Chris Houghton, Crookwell in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales

Andrew Rolfe - Perun Tetrapolid Festulolium Ryepress

Perun Festulolum is filling feed gaps and producing livestock weight gains on many properties in the Bombala district in south-east of New South Wales. Local agronomist, Andrew Rolfe, said many growers were replacing an Italian ryegrass with Perun and having very good success. He said the area typically had good summer storms and the moisture held on well during the summer months, so they had sown Perun with a brassica option during the springtime. Typically a Subzero or Bouncer brassica would be planted at 2 kilograms per hectare and the Perun at between 10 and 12 kilograms per hectare. Mr Rolfe said a September sown crop would provide feed at Christmas time and produce through until winter and the following spring. He said Bouncer would produce until April or May and Subzero until mid-Winter, so the addition of Perun to the mix made it an excellent option for grazing throughout the year. Perun was also sown this season as a standalone crop, or drilled into existing pasture blends or lucerne stands. This season there was a lot of Perun planted in the area and it performed very well in side-by-side comparisons with Italian ryegrasses. Mr Rolfe said Perun was longer-season than many of the other ryegrass types and often pushed back to December without going to head.

In the autumn it also responded well to early rainfall and produced an excellent feed option at that time of the season. A soil pit was dug in one paddock and had roots from the Perun going down to 70cm, which seemed to help the crop under more trying conditions. “Perun seemed to hold on pretty well,” Mr Rolfe said.  “I think the fescue element certainly helped there.” He said at different times of the year some ryegrasses lacked the get up and go that Perun had demonstrated. The other advantage of the Festulolium was the feed value it was providing the prime lambs and cattle that grazed it. Mr Rolfe said excellent weight gains had been achieved with the feed, and there was anecdotal evidence that the forage didn’t pass through the animals as quickly as other options. This helped the health of the animal and ensured maximum benefit was derived from the quality of the feed. The introduction of Perun certainly provided an excellent option for grazing longer through the season and producing good weight gains in the livestock. In the future other pasture species such as white and red clover will be sown with the Perun to further enhance the feed value of the pasture.

Perun Festulolium has extended the season and produced an excellent feed option for Andrew Rolfe at Bombala, NSW.

Tim Bower - Perun Tetrapolid Festulolium Ryepress

A new grass option on the property of Tim Bower, at Uralla in the New England region of New South Wales, was used to fatten cattle and lambs. Mr Bower had looked at Perun Festulolium at field days the previous season and decided to plant it to three paddocks in early 2012. Rates of between 15 and 22 kilograms per hectare were used with the Perun direct-drilled into paddocks with a double lot of Super in February. Initially the areas of Perun were used to fatten steers which were taken off the paddocks in June. After good regrowth, a mob of ewes and lambs were then placed on the areas and finished off during the spring. In late November and early December, heifers and sheep grazed the regrowth and also did well on the feed. Mr Bower said the Perun areas had been used primarily as fattening paddocks with the range of stock performing very well on the feed. “I was using it for whatever stock needed fattening at the time.” He said the areas were not set stocked, but enough cattle or sheep were introduced to eat the available feed down.

The areas of Perun were still producing good quantities of feed late in the year and providing a valuable option for grazing heading into summer. Mr Bower said he was trying to build the pastures up and saw Perun as an ideal opportunity to have a long-term option. He said he expected at least three years of production from the paddocks and would consider direct-drilling in other options to bulk it up in subsequent years. Perun Festulolium is an interspecies cross between Italian ryegrass and Meadow Fescue. This unique combination provides quality feed options with the ryegrass component and the larger root depth and adaptability that are synonymous with a meadow fescue. In the case of the Bower property, there was an opportunity to plant the Perun in late summer and allow it to establish in the warmer conditions of autumn before going into the winter period. This provided a bulk of feed through winter and spring and was still producing a quality option into summer.

Tim Bower of Uralla, in the New England region of New South Wales

Trevor Nash - Perun Tetrapolid Festulolium Ryepress

A crop of Perun Festulolium has persisted well to provide an excellent feed option on the  property Old Truree , managed by Trevor Nash, at Coolah, in the central west of New South Wales. Mr Nash said he first planted Perun in the autumn of 2011 in the hope that it would provide two or more years of growth. He said it was put in as a cattle grazing option and provided excellent feed throughout late winter and spring before it was locked up over the summer period.

That year the crop had a soft run leading up to Christmas and the Perun responded well to produce excellent early feed in the autumn. Perun was sown that season as an alternative to oats, although it was compared to a crop of Diplex ryegrass and clover on the property. Mr Nash said the Diplex was earlier to feed but had run its race in late spring whereas the Perun was still producing good feed. After being locked up over summer, the Perun provided the good feed in autumn and continued to give excellent cattle feed through the winter and particularly in spring.

The success of the crop meant 100 hectares of Perun was sown in 2012 and was planted with blends of clovers that included Sardi Persian, and Renegade Red Clover. “We put two clovers into every mix,” Mr Nash said.  “The clover was included to add quality to the feed and once we get the legumes established, we are also getting a hit of nitrogen.” The 2012 Perun provided excellent feed under the better conditions early and hung on well during a very dry period during spring and summer. Mr Nash also planted Outback oats for the first time in 2012 and was impressed with its ability to produce excellent feed across the season.

He said the oats were sown at the end of February and into early March and had a very good start to the season prior to the months of very little rainfall. “The oats just seemed to hang on,” he said.  “It has probably been the most pleasing crop this year.” He said the oats were strong in the stem, produced good wide leaves and didn’t lie down when cattle were introduced to the area. Parts of the oats were baled at the end of November to provide additional feed options going into summer. The remaining area was still providing valuable cattle feed in the early parts of summer. Mr Nash said the Outback oats produced hay of good quality and excellent grazing throughout the year. He said there was a grazing wheat alongside the oats and they were able to compare the two feed options though out the season. “There was no comparison,” he said.  “The oats yielded a lot higher.”

Trevor Nash, at Coolah, in the central west of New South Wales

David Caslick - Perun Tetrapolid Festulolium Ryepress / Icon Diploid Italian Ryegrass

Excellent grazing was achieved in second year perennial ryegrass paddocks despite very little rainfall on the property of David Caslick, at Wallabadah south of Tamworth, in New South Wales. Mr Caslick said he planted Icon Diploid Italian ryegrass and Perun Festulolium in the autumn of 2011 and it performed well the first season of production. It was in its second year that the value really stood out with good rain falling in autumn, but very little through the winter and spring period. Both Perun and Icon made the most of the early rainfall and a nine hectare paddock of Icon, with 20 hectares of natural pastures, had 440 ewes lamb down on it during the season. That took it through six weeks of lambing and then provided additional feed later in the season for 60 heifers and a bull, over a month. “They chewed it down to the deck but every time there was a storm it came back,” Mr Caslick said. Late in the season there were some handy rainfall events, which lengthened out the season of the ryegrasses and provided green pick right through until December.

Mr Caslick said 20 hectares of Perun and Icon were also planted quite late in 2012 and had to survive with very little rainfall through the period. The Perun paddock was a real standout in the tough conditions and grazed 600 ewes and lambs early and 500 Merino weaners later in the season. “It did a very good job,” he said “I really like the Perun.” He said both options survived 10 days of 40 degree heat in November, towards their second year of production, and was still showing green rows after rain fell shortly afterwards. The areas will be assessed in late summer to see whether it will provide another season of grazing. “We still have quite a good plant population,” Mr Caslick said. The ryegrasses were planted at a rate of approximately 18 kilograms per hectare and were utilised as the main feed source over the winter and spring period. In 2011 the crops were direct-drilled into brassica stubble which had come straight out of a native pasture. “We had excellent germination,” Mr Caslick said. Lucerne sown in the spring of 2012 established well and included ML99 as a dryland hay option and L70 as a grazing lucerne. Mr Caslick said both varieties took advantage of an excellent rainfall event in November and the L70 was able to be grazed lightly by lambs in early December.

David Caslick, of Wallabadah, NSW, had very good performance from Icon and Perun in a very tough season.

Mark WenhamSuccess of Perun leads to greater planting in Hunter Valley -
Perun Tetrapolid Festulolium Ryepress

The success of Perun festulolium on the property of Mark Wenham, at Braxton, in the NSW Hunter Valley, has led to a much greater planting this season. Mr Wenham said he was looking for a product that would produce high quality feed, but would also hang on if the season turned tough or he was unable to irrigate at the optimum time.

He milks between 150 and 200 cows on the property and was keen to introduce a grass-based pasture for long season production for his dairy herd. Perun festulolium was chosen because of its growth in late spring and summer and ability to hang on when times were tough. “It does carry through a bit longer,” Mr Wenham said. “A bit didn’t get irrigated and it sat there and still looked green. Other ryegrasses may have died in a similar situation. Once we were able to water it, it just took off.”

The first area of Perun was grazed regularly over winter and spring and then oversown with white clover for additional forage production into the summer. Perun’s success led to the 2012 planting of a customised blend which included Perun festulolium, Rajah red clover, Riesling white clover and Balance chicory. Mr Wenham said the blend produced well throughout the year and the cows milked well on the feed.

Mark Wenham, Braxton, Hunter Valley, NSW

Ken IkenKen Iken - Perun Tetrapolid Festulolium Ryepress

PERUNA new pasture species demonstrated its good potential on the property of Ken Iken at Crookwell in the southern tablelands of New South Wales. Mr Iken,  who runs a poll Hereford stud on the property, planted two hectares of Perun festulolium as a trial this season and was impressed with its performance. Perun festulolium is a cross between Italian ryegrass and meadow fescue and was sowed at a rate of 25 kilograms per hectare in March. It was planted alongside a perennial ryegrass in a direct comparison to see its performance.  “The Perun certainly outshone the ryegrass initially,” Mr Iken said. He said the establishment and early growth of the Perun was very good and it covered the ground very quickly. “When it was established in late winter it was the paddock that stood out more than anything else,” Mr Iken said. “When we did graze it we couldn’t get enough mouths to keep up with it,” Mr Iken said. 

He said the crop had perfect growing conditions through September and October and reached a good height.  “We are looking at it returning for next year,” Mr Iken said. “It will have every opportunity to be there as long as it can.”  The meadow fescue component of the species has meant it produces a very good root system that will generally go much deeper into the soil structure.  “I’m sure it’s going to have an extensive root system,” Mr Iken said.  He said Perun had a huge place in the area, which is 1000 metres above sea level and characterised by very cold winters. “High performance ryegrasses love this climate. We are looking for good quality feed.”  This season the Perun stayed green right through until Christmas and demonstrated an ability to produce a bulk of feed for many months through the year.

Ken Iken, Crookwell NSW

Hardigreen Stud - Perun Tetrapolid Festulolium Ryepress

A range of ryegrass species was used successfully to fatten cattle on the Hardigreen Park Santa Gertrudis Stud properties located at Wallabadah, east of Quirindi, New South Wales.  Stud manager, Colin Patterson said they planted ryegrass species that included Abundant tetraploid annual Italian,  Tetrone tetraploid annual Italian,  Magnum hybrid tetraploid and Perun Festulolium. He said the different types were grown as an alternative to oats with all performing well under the good conditions of the season.  The majority of the ryegrass paddocks were planted in early April, although the Perun Festulolium, which is a cross between Italian ryegrass and meadow fescue, was not sown until late May. 

Mr Patterson said the ryegrass was used on one property to grow weaner bulls out and on another property to fatten steers and heifers.  He said some milk tooth cattle were sold in late spring at a weight of 600 kilograms. This amazed the agents who commented on how heavy the cattle were considering their age. Most of the paddocks that contained the ryegrass were between 10 and 16 hectares in size with the cattle first introduced in early June. From this point the cattle were rotated around the different strips through winter and spring and into summer. Mr Patterson said a mob of 65 head rotated between an 11 hectare and 16 hectare paddock continuously for between four and five months. In another area 62 weaner bulls grazed a 10 hectare paddock for five weeks before they were able to get on top of the feed.  The ryegrass species were planted primarily as a high protein feed to fatten the cattle although it also provided a good weed control option.

Mr Patterson said the ryegrass was doing a very good job of suppressing the weeds with its strong vigour. He said it compared very favourably to other options such as oats which would normally be used on the property.  The ryegrass species were planted at a rate of between 18 and 20 kilograms per hectare with DAP applied at sowing.  This followed a pre-plant application of lime and sulphate of ammonia. A trial was conducted in one paddock, which pitted the different ryegrass varieties against each other. Mr Patterson said there was good vigour from all ryegrasses in the trial early in the season and they had performed similarly through until spring. 

The different maturities and characteristics of the ryegrasses will be better demonstrated later in the season or during the second year of production.  “I am particularly interested in the Perun  (Festulolium) and might try it in one of the bigger paddocks next year,” Mr Patterson said. He said the Perun was sown later than was ideal, but seem to hang on and keep producing until quite late in the season. The ryegrass paddocks were still being grazed in November and were particularly impressive on another property located at a higher altitude which traditionally had cooler conditions going into summer.  Hardigreen Park Santa Gertrudis Stud has their annual bull sale in September each year.

Hardigreen Stud, Quirindi NSW

Joe ConnellyJoe Connelly - Perun Tetrapolid Festulolium Ryepress

A blend of ryegrass species has performed particularly well on the property of Joe Connelly at Benambra in the Alpine region of Victoria.  Mr Connelly said he first used the mix of Perun Festulolium, Jeanne Tetraploid Italian Ryegrass and another ryegrass as an experiment in 2009 to lift production and stocking rates.  That year the ryegrass blend was planted to less than 2 hectares (4.5 acres) and, in an ordinary season, Mr Connelly cut 62 big square bales off it.  The success of the initial blend led to it being planted to 6.5 hectares in 2010 with 8 kilograms of each variety being sown per hectare. 

Mr Connelly said the blend was planted in late April and was then stocked through August and September with 44 head of young cattle and 45 lambs.  “The feed was getting away from them and so we shut the paddock up and left it for hay,” he said.  The lambs were the tail-end animals not sold the previous year and did exceptionally well on the feed, bringing very good prices when sold in spring.  “They did really well on it,” Mr Connelly said. “It is a very sweet feed.”  He said the late maturity of both the Perun Festulolium and Jeanne Tetraploid Italian Ryegrass meant the cattle and sheep could continue to graze the feed well into spring. The blend hadn’t gone to head and produced a lot of bulk in anticipation of a hay or silage cut in early summer.

As well as providing good bulk and quality feed, the blend has also been used as a handy break crop in a paddock that had originally been infested with barley grass before being rotated to oats and finally the ryegrass mix.  Mr Connelly said he expected two to three years of production from the paddock and the success of it would lead to a further planting into a 30 acre area next season. He said the paddock planted last year had received 600 kilograms per hectare of lime the previous season and one tonne of single super at planting.  “The germination and vigour was very good.”  By introducing the ryegrass blend to the property in the high country Mr Connelly has lifted production of the paddock over the traditional pastures and native clover of the area. It has allowed a good break crop option to control weed species and provided a good grazing option well into spring and hay or silage in early summer.

Joe Connelly, Benambra VIC

Jo BaconJanuary planted Pasture Mix an excellent option in Walcha -
Perun Tetrapolid Festulolium Ryepress

An innovative pasture mix planted in the last week of January, 2010 provided early feed and grazing throughout the year on the property of Jo and Wayne Bacon at Walcha, east of Tamworth in New South Wales. Jo Bacon said they planted a blend of seed which contained white clover, plantain, chicory and the new Perun festulolium variety. Perun festulolium is a cross between Italian ryegrass and meadow fescue and combines the positive qualities of both parent species. It has a similar quality profile to an Italian ryegrass and the adaptation and root depth of the meadow fescue.

Mrs Bacon said they looked at the festulolium as an option because of its ability to come back for a number of seasons rather than being used up in the one year. “We normally put ryegrass in but thought we’d give it a go to get some years out of it.” She said, after sowing 55 acres of the blend at the end of January, they were able to graze the pasture with 250 lambs within six weeks. The lambs had originally been weaned onto a brassica crop and picked up condition well when they were placed on the festulolium pasture in March. “Within a month they fattened up quickly.

We gave it a spell and put other lambs in.” The original lambs were sold and replaced with 300 head which also performed well. During the winter months the paddock was grazed by 35 steers which were later replaced by mobs of cows in the spring and then steers in early summer to take advantage of the clover in the mix. Mrs Bacon said the paddock had a particularly good run with excellent seasonal conditions throughout the year. By mixing Perun with the white clover and herbs they were able to extend the season through until December and provide quality feed. The pasture mix was able to supply good grazing options over a period of ten months. She said the production from the Perun was equal to, or may have even been a bit better than a traditional ryegrass used in the area.

Jo Bacon, Walcha NSW

Adrian YoungPersistence of Perun impressive at Glencoe - Perun Tetrapolid Festulolium Ryepress

The persistence of Perun Festulolium was impressive on the Young property at Glencoe in south-east of South Australia. Adrian Young said they normally relied on annual ryegrasses on their dryland areas but were encouraged to put in a trial piece of Perun back in the autumn of 2010. A four hectare paddock was planted to a tetrapolid annual ryegrass in one section and Perun festulolium in the other.

Both were sown at 25 kilograms per hectare into a paddock of testing deep sandy soil where persistence of pasture species had generally been an issue. Mr Young said the Perun showed excellent vigour and it took advantage of the wet spring and summer conditions. In 2011 it showed excellent pasture density and remained vegetative throughout the season. The dryland area complements irrigation as a bit of extra feed and the Perun has shown good adaptability over the two years of production. Persistence of Perun can be attributed to its meadow fescue parentage which provides extra root depth and the ability to hang on during adverse conditions.

Adrian Young, Glencoe SA
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