Success Tastes Sweet for High-Sugar Grasses

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), May 10, 2003 | Go to article overview

Success Tastes Sweet for High-Sugar Grasses


HIGH-SUGAR ryegrasses, developed by plant breeders at the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, are continuing to make their mark in the United Kingdom.

In the latest development, three of the new grasses have won or consolidated places on the Recommended List of varieties published by the National Institute of Agricultural Botany.

"This move is significant, because high-sugar grasses are likely to play a key role as grassland farmers move towards more sustainable livestock systems and place greater reliance on forage feeding," said IGER's Dr Pete Wilkins.

Research at the institute has shown that the raised sugar levels in the grasses can lead to more efficient use of grass protein by livestock, and less wastage of plant nitrogen in forms that can cause pollution.

"Grassland farmers who want to grow these forages now have a wider choice," added Dr Wilkin. "There's now a good range of different high-sugar varieties available with different growth rhythms, and these can be combined to make successful mixtures in a number of settings."

The best-known of the new varieties is AberDart, which is now fully recommended for general use. (It was formerly in the 'provisional general' catergory). AberDart is a high-performing all-rounder, known for its quality, digestibility, ground cover, spring growth and disease resistance. "This ground-breaking variety was the first high-sugar grass to become commercially available and it has become the best-selling intermediate-heading variety in the UK," explained Dr Wilkin. …

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