One of the problems with our “new-normal” of dry or droughty summers is the effect these are having on our sowing season. In years like this, many farmers are starting sowing later than ideal, and the season is more condensed.
The good side of this is soil temperatures are still mild – above 15 degrees in many North Island and upper South Island areas at time of writing at the start of April, which is ideal for establishing most pastures.
We are comfortable with farmers sowing perennial ryegrass, or any of the short term ryegrass options through to about Anzac Day. But it is too late for sowing pasture brome or tall fescue due to their sensitivity to temperature.
Not taking the opportunity is compromising next season’s production before it even starts. Paddocks that were in poor shape before summer are no better off now, and may well be in worse condition.
And for those who are looking to ‘save’ by using a cheap rye/clover mix, there’s just one word of advice: don’t.
In the overall scheme of things (remembering farms are multi-million dollar businesses) seed isn’t a big cost. With rye/clover you don’t know what you’re getting and it probably won’t have endophyte so it won’t persist anyway. Often it has a lot of weed seed (there is a reason it’s cheap!)
The other comment we are hearing this season is that farmers are switching from perennial ryegrass to shorter term options (such as Shogun of Tabu) that are faster establishing. This will certainly improve winter and early spring growth, but it needs to be balanced with the required persistence. Too many short-term pastures sown now means a lot of renewal over the next few years.