Caledonian kale has been around for a while now, but there’s still nothing like it when it comes to providing a winter crop with both excellent DM yield, and high quality.
That’s the advice for farmers planning spring sowing in Otago and Southland from local Agriseeds area manager Riley Cooper.
“Most other kales force farmers to compromise between one or the other of these attributes but with Caledonian, there’s no downside,” Riley says.
It typically yields 12–16 tonnes DM/ha, and can reach 20 t DM/ha when conditions allow.
Greater yield potential means lower per kg DM cost, which is what farmers are seeking, but usually with kale this can come at the expense of feed quality.
Fortunately Caledonian has soft marrow stems which are more palatable and have higher ME levels, leading to higher crop utilisation and improved animal performance.
“Because the leaf portion of kale crops usually tops out at 4-5 tonnes DM/ha, two thirds of the crop’s yield comes from the stem. That’s why it is important to use a cultivar that offers high ME stems, especially if putting condition on stock over winter is an important goal.”
Where conditions allow for yields in excess of 10 t DM/ha, he recommends sowing Caledonian at 5 kg/ha.
“Trials have shown an increased yield of 9% over a 4 kg/ha sowing rate. An extra tonne of high quality DM for the cost of a kg of seed is a pretty good return.”