What are the opportunities from sowing Redstart for outwintering?

Thursday 25.06.2020 , News

With the window of opportunity for sowing kale closing, and where winter forage shortages is cause for concern on your farm, now is the time to consider Redstart to fill that gap.

This hybrid rape/kale brassica is best sown from July to late August, so it can be mature in 90 days from sowing and be utilised from October onwards as a high-energy protein crop for outwintering cattle and sheep.

Redstart offers the highly beneficial combination of rapid growth ability and good all-year-round performance. It was a hugely popular choice on farms in 2018 to increase feed availability due to the drought, making it a key consideration again this year. The forage rape genes in Redstart allow the crop to grow quickly, while the kale genes deliver excellent winter hardiness.

  • Sow July/August for single-graze outwintering
  • Excellent leaf:stem ratio = high-quality feed
  • Expected yield of 6-8 t DM/ha @ 12-14% DM and 18-20% CP
  • Energy levels of 10-11 MJ/kg DM
  • Recommended sowing rate is 3 to 3.5 kg/acre if drilled or 4.0 kg/acre if broadcast
  • Crop will be ready for grazing 90-110 days after sowing

Management considerations

Sowing Redstart in July will generally give the best result in terms of total yield; remember, a day's growth in July is worth a week in August or a month in September. Ideally, Redstart should be sown in mid-late July but many farmers sow Redstart earlier in the year in order to take multiple grazings from it.

Brassicas have a high requirement for nitrogen (N) phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) and an adequate supply of these nutrients is critical to maximise the yield potential of the crop. However, remaining within your nitrates directive allowances is important.

In addition, brassicas are low in fibre and therefore at feed-out, supplementing with fibre, e.g. silage or straw is critical for animal health.

Feeding options

Whilst the majority of Redstart crops are grazed in situ, the crop can also be baled or zero-grazed, if necessary. In 2018 results from the farm of James Goff in Waterford, showed bales of ensiled Redstart had an ME value of 12.7 MJ/kg DM and CP 23.7%. Samples taken from a standing crop of Redstart in November 2018 in Co. Laois had a ME value of 11 MJ/kg DM, with a CP of 22.1%.