Pearce seeds main varieties:
Suitable for Autumn/Winter grazing, and usually grown in mixture with stubble turnips. Sowings are made as soon as harvest is cleared to lengthen the time for establishment and growth. Forage Rape has the advantage of being a very fast growing crop, suitable for grazing by sheep or cattle.
An ideal catch crop for boosting midsummer forage production for livestock farmers when planted in the spring, it is suitable for fattening lambs in the autumn/winter. Forage rape extends the grazing season in the autumn and is superb for flushing ewes. It is better to strip graze to avoid excessive wastage.
Hungry Gap Rape
For later use, Hungry Gap’s exceptional winter hardiness will ensure crops can be used in January and February. It is best sown in June or July and its growth habit is kale-like in appearance.
Kale is a brassica traditionally grown for grazing by cattle in the autumn and winter. The long-established mainstay of autumn through to late winter grazing, producing heavy yields of high protein and energy feed, with unrivalled winter hardiness. It can also be cut and fed to stock "in house" or as an alternative can be ensiled as big bale kaleage. Kale is very useful as it can extend the grazing season. It is advisable to alternate sowing dates to ensure it does not over-mature. It is very adaptable and can grow on most sites throughout the UK. Kale can also be used as game cover (see relevant section).
- Maris Kestrel - Providing high digestibility right through the winter
- Thousand Head - reliable and consistent variety. Medium height with good resistance to lodging It is a particularly winter hardy variety and provides nutritious leaves even in the winter.
- Gruner Angeliter - High yielding variety with good winter hardiness and excellent feeding quality.
- Caledonian - Club Root resistance - can be continuously sown on brassica sick sites. A taller kale allowing for easier bird access.
- Golden Eye - a giant type kale especially bred for the game cover market, selected for the optimum combination of height and leaf production.
Hybrid Rape / Kale Brassicas
This versatile crop offers a wide sowing window, from May to end of August. Offering high energy grazing for cattle and sheep from July through to the following March. Excellent late summer, autumn or winter feed. Fast and vigorous with early maturing (in 70-90 days) with superior regrowth potential.
Redstart is from the same breeding line as Swift and offers the same benefits - similar flexible and cost effective solutions to year-round quality forage supply, but with higher feed quality. Again a wide sowing window from May to August and with potential re growth.
Has an exceptional yield potential, disease resistance and palatability is ideal for finishing lambs or dairy cows. Interval is very fast to establish with some crops ready to utilise within 10-12 weeks of sowing.
Mixtures & Straights
Quality fast growing crops that can be grown in-between other crops or with other crops
Catch crop mixtures combine the benefits of stubble turnips and forage rape, excellent for fattening lambs during autumn and winter and providing winter keep for all stock.
A mixture with higher % of stubble turnips is ideal for sowing after winter cereals. It is suitable for post Christmas grazing as it exhibits very good winter hardiness, which is improved by the addition of kale. Sowing date should be mid-July to mid-September.
Where forage rape is the higher % of inclusion, this mixture ensures quick establishment and high protein yields, whilst the stubble turnips provide energy and stockholding capacity. The mixture is ideal for fattening stock and will provide grazing from July through to December. Sow mid-April to mid-September.
A deep rooted, perennial legume, Lucerne is ideally suited to light, free draining soils with a pH of 7. The crop is usually sown between April and August at a depth of 1 cm and a rate of 8-10 kilos per acre. Lucerne is usually treated as a 5 year conservation crop and cut 3-4 times. It is important to leave a minimum 10 cm stubble to speed regrowth and not scalp the plant.
The plants usually have a protein content of around 18% and their higher fibre levels complement items like maize silage in a ration. Lucerne has a very good yield potential of 13 tonnes of dry matter/ha/year over the first 2 years.
The inclusion of Lucerne silage in dairy cow diets has been shown to improve forage intake, and increase output of milk protein, with no change in milk fat. The benefits together with lower forage production costs when compared with grass silage should help to improve margin/litre of milk produced. Yet in spite of all of these important attributes, ruminant livestock producers have been reluctant to grow Lucerne silage and the area in the UK is at present small.