A new variety of lucerne, Mezzo, made its debut on the UK market earlier this year with record-breaking trial results.

For the past three years, Mezzo has out-performed other well-established varieties in national trials in France and taken protein yields per hectare to new levels.

“Trials show that Mezzo has consistently produced 18 tonnes of dry matter per hectare in conditions similar to those in the UK, which is at least 5% ahead of other lucerne varieties on the market,” said Ian Misselbrook, Limagrain grass seed manager.

“Its average crude protein content of 19.3% will also give protein production from home grown forage a welcome boost on many units.”

Mezzo also has a track record of being disease and nematode resistant and it has a low dormancy rating of 3.6, which is a real advantage to UK growers, especially in the Midlands and north.

“It offers more winter hardiness and will withstand harsh winter conditions. And its yield does not suffer because of its increased persistency; Mezzo’s exceptional growth more than compensates for this leading to its outstanding yields,” added Mr Misselbrook.

Limagrain UK continues to supply Marshal lucerne that offers dry matter yields of 14 tonnes per hectare and a protein content of 18.1%, which has proved popular with growers for many years as it is thinner stemmed and has a high leaf to stem ratio than other varieties.

“The thinner stems makes Marshal the best lucerne variety available for baling and wrapping and it’s favourable leaf to stem ratio improves palatability and feed quality,” adds Mr Misselbrook.

Both Mezzo and Marshal can be clamped, baled or made into hay. Up to five cuts per year are possible and the crop is very drought tolerant.

A lucerne crop will typically give four years’ continuous production of high protein, high mineral forage with a dry matter content around 30% and digestibility of 70. The lower cell wall content compared to grass makes lucerne highly digestible with cattle intakes on lucerne tending to be high.

Lucerne growing

• Likes fine firm seedbed

• Likes well-drained soils

• Sown right through summer from April

• Deep-rooted system so it can withstand drought

• No nitrogen required – it’s a legume

• Should get four cuts – cutting cycle 40 days

• Varieties with winter hardiness and persistency are available such as Mezzo and Marshal