The importance of the sowing date and good crop management practises cannot be underestimated – as James elaborates on below.
Depending on when the crop is to be utilised, and if multi-grazings are an objective; the sowing date can range from May to August. Early fertiliser application and pest control where necessary, namely slugs, will also give the crop the best chance of establishment.
James’s 2018 crop of Redstart was set at the end of July at 3.5kg/acre with an application of 4 bags of 18.6.12 to the acre shortly after. It also received slug control treatment and was ready for grazing from early November, at which point it was grazed in-situ through to mid-January. In addition, James also ensiled a crop of Redstart in October 2018 in the form of bales. Admittedly, it is a risk ensiling at this time of year but 2018 presented exceptional circumstances. The feed analysis in Table 1 shows the high nutritional value of the crop which was ensiled.
Table 1. Nutritional analysis of ensiled Redstart on the farm of James Goff (crop ensiled October 2018, sample taken January 2019)
Bill Reilly of Germinal speaking to James Goff regarding the ensiled Redstart
Having proved its worth, Redstart was sown again in 2019 but with a delayed sowing date of early September it didn’t yield the same results. Despite adhering to the recommended fertiliser application and good lime status, the crop failed to establish properly and yielded poor results.
James also reported that sowing into tilled ground versus direct drill may have also had an impact. The challenging weather in September 2019, including the rain and cooler than normal temperatures, meant that the crop struggled to establish. Advice is to sow your brassica no later than mid August in order to maximise the feed availability in the crop for grazing. The difficulty with a later sowing date, is the uncertainty of the weather ahead and unfortunately the backend of last year presented challenges for later sown crops. Many other crops including grass sown in September 2019 were much slower to establish compared to other years. This furthermore highlights the importance of timing when sowing crops.