Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Chicory..Interesting Summer Forage Option.....& Is that RAIN I hear?

Chicory is an interesting summer forage option. It is a broadleafed perennial herb with a deep tap root. Pasture to Profit Discussion Group members in different parts of the UK are very pleased with Chicory both as a summer forage crop & as part of a perennial pasture seed mix.

Without crops of Chicory some farmers in SE England & the southern coast regions would have struggled for summer feed this year due to the very dry conditions. Rotational grazing on about a 21 day rotation & strip feeding for 2-3 hours a day (to avoid tainting milk) can provide high quality feed for milking cows or heifers. As Chicory doesnt fix N so it responses well to nitrogen fertilizer if there is some moisture.

NZ trials have recorded up to 18 Tonnes DM/ha.

Chicory is best sown in the spring at either 1-2kgs/ha in a pasture seed mix or at 5-6kgs/ha if targeting a summer forage crop. The summer crop option is best sown with a vigorous clover to provide the nitrogen. Feed responses appear to be similar to turnips as Chicory has good protein levels & ME levels of 13MJ/kgDM.

Why is Chicory interesting? Massey University (NZ) has found that it contains 'Condensed Tannins' & that these may act to protect animals from internal parasites.

Chicory has elevated levels of minerals & an interesting study in NZ found that there were higher populations of earthworms under Chicory compared to regular pasture over the summer months.

Chicory only has moderate persistance say 3-4years....dont graze it in winter nor poach the ground in wet conditions. Leave at least 1500kgsDM/ha residuals to prevent too many growing points/crowns being damaged.

In the groups it is either being grown for summer forage or as an internal parasite control option.

There is plenty of discussion on our facebook group about Chicory & its merits or problems.


The UK has been very dry in September...no rain for 4-6 weeks in most areas. Today however the rain fell again.....we need more to encourage pasture growth & rescue newly sown crops/pasture.

Pasture growth rates are falling due to lack of rain however the Dry Matter of current pasture is very high off setting what appear to be falling average pasture covers over most of the UK. Many organic farms are out growing their conventional mates as the clover % is very high in well managed pasture swards. Organic pastures seem to consistently grow really well over summer & autumn.

Current Pasture Covers & Pasture Growth Rates

Cumbria 2650 kgsDM/ha & growth of 35kgsDM/ha/day

Cumbria 2350 & 30

Northern Ireland 2190 & 37

Nth Wales 2650 & 65

West Wales 2690 & 60
South East Wales 2610 & 24

Cheshire 2200 & 10

Gloucestershire 2455 & 34

Somerset Nth 2500 & 35

Somerset 2450 & 45

Somerset 2300 & 18

Dorset 1950 & 11

and in Cornwall (my recent French visitors discovered this is not part of England!)

Cornwall 2480 & 61

If you are using the 'Big Red Telephone' to "He or She (upstairs)...who controls rainfall over the UK" can I quietly suggest light warm gentle rain every second evening over the next 10 days ....please! No heavy falls.....oh & we'd like a dry winter too if that's not too much to ask for please! Thanks.

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