Strangford – new AFBI-bred ryegrass for spring 2023

Date published: 29 November 2022

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Strangford is the newest perennial ryegrass variety to be released from the AFBI ryegrass breeding programme based at Loughgall.

David Linton (Barenbrug Commercial Manager UK Agriculture), Gillian Young (AFBI Forage Grass Breeder) and Mhairi Dawson (Barenbrug Account Manager, Scotland) at the forage grass breeding plots, AFBI Loughgall.

Strangford will be released at the 2022 Winter Fair on 8th December by AFBI’s commercial partner Barenbrug UK Ltd, and limited quantities of seed will be available in spring 2023.

Strangford is a diploid, intermediate-maturing ryegrass, heading relatively early for its group on the 21 May. The variety is now on the Scottish Recommended list, where it has produced extremely high yields of grass under both silage and grazing, with particularly high first cut yields, producing extra spring forage at that critical time of the year. Under grazing management, Strangford is the highest yielding intermediate diploid variety on the Scottish recommended list at 111%, compared with the mean of the intermediate diploid controls for total yield, also producing excellent shoulder growth (spring and autumn) to help extend the grazing season, improving whole season nitrogen use efficiency. Strangford also produces high quality grass, particularly under silage, with a silage first cut of 70.4 D and 2nd cut of 74.5 D.

Strangford is the latest ryegrass variety to be released from the hugely successful AFBI forage grass breeding programme based at Loughgall, which is supported by funding from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). There are currently twenty-two ryegrass varieties bred by AFBI included on recommended lists across the UK and Ireland, all of which have been bred in N. Ireland, for local use on farm. New varieties show consistent and significant improvements in traits such as yield, digestibility and disease resistance, with annual yield improvements shown of 0.52% under silage management and 0.35% under grazing. Ruminant performance has been shown to increase when forage contains higher amounts of metabolizable energy and with increasing digestibility, and therefore new improved varieties can also improve production, as well as reduce potentially harmful methane emissions.

The AFBI Forage Grass Breeding Programme continues to play a vital role in increasing productivity from local grassland farms. AFBI has launched over 30 varieties for local use, all of which have been proven to show significant improvements compared with older varieties. Each variety has undergone extensive testing in trials across the UK before release to the market and has been proven to be of equal or better performance to its competitors for key traits. As the AFBI grass breeding programme continues to thrive, the team continue to use advances in grass breeding science to develop a steady supply of new varieties that can meet the ever-changing demands of the future grassland industry in Northern Ireland.

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