AFTER silage is cut, there's a growing trend to looking at ways of maximising fodder for the forthcoming winter by sowing alternative crops, such as brassicas.

Now a new ready reckoner from Limagrain in its 2019 'Essential guide to forage crops' itemises what's available.

“We’ve seen more interest in summer forages recently, that can be sown from May into August,” said Martin Titley, its forage crops director. "Many dairy producers are interested in lucerne and the guide highlights a new variety, Mezzo, that has a dormancy rating of 3.6, which means the crop can now be considered for more northerly areas of the UK.”

The guide ranks growing costs, sowing times and feed value for nine key forages. “Farmers can use this information and also refer to the varieties within each species, so they select those best suited to their specific growing conditions and uses,” added Mr Titley. “There are now more options available for farmers to consider.”

He said stubble turnips, hybrid brassicas and forage rape all can be used within 12 weeks of sowing. “Some varieties are suited to summer grazing by cattle – such as the hybrid brassica, Skyfall, while the rape/kale hybrid, Interval, is an ideal forage for autumn and winter.

"Those looking for winter forages for sheep and lambs can take advantage of crops such as Samson stubble turnip or Rampart forage rape,” he added.