It is a broad-leaved perennial forage crop that can be grown in Ireland as a pure stand or as a key part of multi-species swards with clover, or grass and clover, for medium to long term rotational grazing (two- to five-year persistency).
Perennial chicory seed should not be confused with short-lived common chicory, grown unsuccessfully previously.
Selection strategy in breeding Puna II has included tolerance to the fungal disease Sclerotinia, which causes plant death, and an erect growth habit to improve compatibility with ryegrass.
Key benefits of Puna II chicory seed
- Outstanding animal performance (e.g. lamb growth rates of 300-400 g/day)
- Yields up to 15 t DM/ha in a season; crude protein up to 25%; D-value 70-80
- High mineral content, including zinc, potassium, and copper
- Good tolerance to drought, acid soils, and major pests
- Rapid regrowth after grazing
- Reduces the effect of internal parasites
- Provides high-quality feed through the summer
- Does not cause bloating
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Sowing rate: 1 kg/acre with 14 kg grass and clover (2.5 + 35 kg/ha)
2.5-3 kg/acre (6.0-7.5 kg/ha) if sowing a pure stand
Sowing time: April to mid-August (if sown with grass), April-May (as pure stand)
Sowing depth: 10 mm
Sowing instructions: Sow chicory seed in well-drained soils. Control broad-leaved weeds before sowing. Cultivate to achieve a fine, firm seed bed. Ploughing will help level rough fields. Sow in good conditions (warm with rain forecast), no deeper than 10-15 mm. Roll well after sowing to ensure good soil/ seed contact. N, P and K fertiliser requirements are similar to that of grass. Ensure optimum soil pH, P and K indices.
After sowing chicory seed
- Graze when the crop reaches a height of 10-15 cm and when plants are resistant to uprooting. Generally ready for grazing eight weeks after sowing
- Rotationally graze for best results
- Avoid flower heads developing (except once in the autumn as this can aid persistency)
- Avoid damage to the crown as this will reduce yield and persistency (more likely with hard grazing in wet conditions)
- If chicory produces seed, grazing with cattle is preferable over topping. Topping can allow water to penetrate the hollow stem and this can kill the plant
- Ensure adequate N, P and K fertiliser is available to the plant