The breeding for Reward was from two selection cycles from a cross between a sister line of Banquet II and Bealey. Reward is derived from excellent genetics that are already present in the Australian market.The selection criteria that were used to identify potential lines included:
The same endophyte that was present in Banquet II is also in Reward because it offers a good level of security to Australian farmers. The level of protection from key pasture pests is very good and it has been selected specifically for reduced levels of ergovaline, to minimise the risk of heat stress to the grazing animals. The positive aspect of Endo5 is that there isn’t any Lolitrem B produced, which is the main causative agent of ryegrass staggers. Ryegrass staggers are a known risk in Australia, with high livestock losses over the past 20 years.
Reward Endo5 tetraploid perennial ryegrass should be sown at rates between 20-30kg/ha. It can be easily mixed with either other ryegrasses or, because it is a tetraploid, makes for a great companion with clovers and/or herbs. This will ensure a balanced pasture diet that offers high quality feed for beef, sheep and dairy.
Sowing depth is important as is the seed to soil contact, given that Reward is a small seed. Ensure that the depth of sowing is between 5 and 15mm for optimum establishment rate and early vigour. If the seed is sown too deep, then the seed will be delayed in its establishment which then has an impact on other important management decisions such as weed control and timing, insect pest
management and grazing timing.
The first grazing should be a light grazing to encourage tiller development and secondary root growth. This shouldn’t take place until the plants can withstand the “pull test” which is a simple and fast way to identify if the plants have established well enough to handle grazing by an animal. The first grazing should be done with sheep or a light class of cattle and ensure that the ground is relatively firm, to minimise any potential damage that could be caused by the animals moving across the new pasture. The first grazing is also a very important aspect of managing a newly sown pasture, especially if the pasture includes other species such as clover as it allows for light to be able to get down to the newly emerging clover plants for them to continue to grow and develop and be an integral part of the overall pasture for years to come.
As with all grasses, overgrazing of Reward should be avoided. Given the higher palatability of tetraploids, stock may graze Reward lower than diploid plants, which means that the grazing needs to be monitored, especially in the year of establishment. Reward with the Endo5 novel endophyte does produce ergovaline for insect protection, so it is important to avoid prolonged periods of set-stocking or grazing of fresh regrowth during summer and autumn months.
Animal health issues caused by alkaloids produced by endophytes can be reduced by adjusting summer and autumn grazing management. It is generally around this time when the stress on the ryegrass increases and, therefore, the alkaloid levels are high in order to assist with the protection of the plant. Hard grazing to the base of the ryegrass plants (where the ergovaline alkaloid is) during
these periods will increase the likelihood of endophyte related animal health problems.
The NW Spanish germplasm has the ability to grow when there is any moisture available. Any rainfall event that may occur during the summer months will encourage Reward to grow and actually produce dry matter when traditional types such as Victorian perennial ryegrass will not. To ensure that the plant is managed well during the warmer months and during dryer conditions, it is important to not rush stock onto the new growth and to wait until the ryegrass has produced at least two fully emerged leaves. This will ensure that while the plant has utilised some of the carbohydrate reserves to produce the green leaf area, it has also started to store carbohydrates back into the root zone. It is the storage of the carbohydrates in the root zone that is critically important because if this doesn’t occur, then the individual plant’s “fuel reserve” becomes depleted until there is nothing left and the plant eventually dies. It is important not to leave the stock on the pasture for extended periods.