Farmers are being urged to avoid the effects of soaring prices for winter feed by growing their own.
Droughts in some of the world’s principal grain-growing regions, together with the demands of the emerging biofuel industry in the United States and a dismal harvest in Britain, have more than doubled the price of feed wheat.
And there have been some indifferent silage and hay harvests.
Paul Billings of British Seed Houses said it was not too late for some of the new fast-growing fodder crops such as the hybrid brassica Swift and the grazing turnip Appin to give Welsh livestock farmers an alternative.
Mr Billings said they offered the opportunity of additional pre- Christmas feed stocks if sown by mid-to-late September.
Timely sowing and correct management could turn a bare stubble into a ready-to-graze crop in as little as 10 autumn weeks.
“Establishment costs need not be excessive, but it is important to do the job right to ensure you maximise the crop’s potential,” said Mr Billings.
“Seed can be broadcast direct on to stubble or on to a surface that has been power harrowed or disced. The most important part is to roll the seed in, to ensure good contact with the soil.”
The threat of pests and diseases can be met by using treated seed, and Mr Billings said it was advisable to check the soil nutrient and pH status before sowing, and take the appropriate action to ensure the crop was properly fed.
“Soil pH should ideally be in the 5.8-6.5 range for brassicas, and there is usually a good response to nitrogen and phosphate,” he said.
“As a general guideline, crops will typically require 50kg-60kg of Nitrogen per hectare and 30kg/ha of both phosphate and potash.”