Haymaster® 9 is a new lucerne to the Australian market. It is a great option for producers looking for a premium quality, highly winter active lucerne for hay and/or grazing. With the new salt tolerant trait, Haymaster® 9 demonstrates increased germination and yield performance in marginally saline soils.
Haymaster® 9 was developed by crossing elite high yielding plants that have the ability to germinate and produce forage under saline stress conditions. Haymaster® 9 is also an excellent performing variety in non-saline conditions and was selected for high levels of tolerance to the major lucerne pests and diseases.
Lucerne is often called the "King of Fodder" and well known for its high yield and forage quality. For that reason it has been a logical candidate for the development of saline tolerant varieties. Early breeding efforts have focused primarily on developing varieties with increased germination under salt stress as a means of improving stand establishment. Subsequent varietal releases such as Haymaster 9 are now showing improved forage production under salt stress conditions. Haymaster 9 now combines both germination tolerance and improved forage production under salt stress. These genetic improvements have proven to be beneficial in marginal saline areas, first by improving stands in "saline hot spots"and later by increasing mature plant salt tolerance in established stands. This combined approach has resulted in forage yield improvements in paddocks where yield losses have occurred due to salt stress variations across a paddock. It should be noted that Haymaster 9 is also an excellent performing variety in non-saline soils; it just has the additional genetic trait of improved salt tolerance. This combined trait makes Haymaster 9 a very well suited lucerne to provide maximum yields in a variety of environments.
The development of new improved salt tolerant lucerne varieties gives forage producers an additional means of minimising salinity related production losses and an opportunity to improve profits by fully utilising all the farm ground available to them. Although the new advances in salt tolerant genetics are a big step in combating salinity losses, producers should not consider it as the sole answer. Some saline problems are so severe (and are often associated with waterlogging etc. which lucerne is intolerant of) that improved genetics will not solve the salinity problem alone. In those cases, utilising superior genetics combined with sound soil and water management practices can provide an integrated approach to improving forage yield on both saline and marginally saline soils.
Lucerne requires deep, well-drained soils (sands to moderately heavy clays) with a slightly acid to alkaline pH. It is intolerant of high levels of exchangeable aluminium.
Planning will help extend a lucerne stand life; always sow a forage crop in rotation prior to replanting into a paddock that has an
old lucerne stand, this helps to lower the instances of root disease being carried over to a new crop. This will also help with weed suppression prior to the final cultivation as well as ensuring that the newly sown lucerne stand successfully establishes without any effects from autotoxicity.
Soil sample 6–12 months prior to planting, this will allow time for any soil pH or element corrections that may need to be implemented.
Have a well prepared seedbed prior to sowing, create a fine, firm seedbed clean of any weeds. Use a pre-emergent herbicide, especially for wireweed control and always insist on Superstrike™ treated seed for the best results. Monitor after sowing for any insect pests and weeds and manage them accordingly.
Weed infestation early in the life of a lucerne stand limits yield and hay quality. Growers need to know which weeds are expected and the likely impact they may have. Summer weeds are usually a greater challenge to lucerne seedlings than winter weeds in the establishment phase. Therefore, choosing the optimum sowing time is important. Generally there is less weed competition in sowings made between April and August. Seriously persistent perennial weeds such as nut grass, couch grass and Johnson grass can be controlled in a summer fallow preceding an autumn sowing by using appropriate cultivation in combination with herbicide treatments.
Grazing management is about finding a balance between yield, quality and persistence, especially with winter active and highly winter active lucerne varieties.
Minimum 350mm rainfall per annum unless irrigated