Rested lucerne comes up smiling

Mean effect of the duration of regrowth on (a) the concentration of starch and (b) the weight of starch in roots of twenty different varieties of lucerne.Mean effect of the duration of regrowth on (a) the concentration of starch and (b) the weight of starch in roots of twenty different varieties of lucerne.

Growers and researchers continue to define best lucerne management. Now comes news that proper rest for the pasture is an integral part of the routine.

NSW Agriculture researchers at Tamworth measured starch levels during lucerne regrowth to discover how long the crop needed to rest after grazing. They found that starch levels declined for 13 days during regrowth as reserves were mobilised to support the growth of new stems and leaves.

After this, starch levels increased as photosynthesis in the tops produced more carbohydrates than needed for shoot growth. About 35 days were required after cutting before starch concentrations returned to their initial levels However, only 23 days were required before the total weight of starch in roots was renewed. This suggests that, for established plants with root systems that change little in weight during regrowth, rest periods shorter than 35 days may be possible.