Winter grass growth

Published 16 January 15

“The 2015 grazing season is almost upon us so, in preparation for this year’s Forage for Knowledge, I have talked with our contributing farmers around the country,” says DairyCo technical extension officer Piers Badnell.

“One of the things that emerged was the amount of winter grass growth many farmers have seen. One farmer told me he has had 7kg DM/ha growth per day over the winter, since the cows came in. Others mentioned the grass grew until the end of November, but how much greener it is compared to most years at this time.

“Growth over the winter will be varied depending on altitude, shelter, location, etc. though it may be a good idea to see what you have got, and make a plan accordingly. With the current market conditions, it will be arguably more important this season to make grass work hard for you. So have a look and don’t miss an opportunity.

"How quickly the plant grows dependents on temperature at soil level and around the growing point. The higher the temperature, the quicker the leaves appear (a ryegrass plant only has three live leaves). The size of these leaves relies on good growing conditions such as light, nutrient, moisture and warmth so the better these are, the bigger the leaves. In a milder winter, leaves will appear quicker and be bigger, hence some of the good growth and the green colour seen in parts of the country."

Forage for Knowledge will again be tracking our contributors throughout the 2015 season, to keep you abreast of the latest grass growth and quality results across the country, and to see how they make the most of grazing in their systems. Farmers and other industry experts will also be sharing their thoughts and ideas on a huge range of forage subjects to help you drive profitability during the season.