Five new first-choice varieties have been added to the British Society of Plant Breeder’s 2020 Forage Maize Descriptive Lists (DL).
The list is updated annually by the group, which is the representative organisation for plant breeders in the UK.
Forage maize varieties are tested independently for three years before addition to the DL.
The varieties Smoothi CS and Abrisse from Caussade Semences, Prospect from Limagrain, LiRoyal from DSV and KWS Calvini from KWS are all new entrants onto this year's Favourable Sites DL.
The Less Favourable DL, aimed at ‘marginal’ growing conditions, sees the addition of six new varieties - KWS Calvini, Prospect, LiRoyal, RGT Stewaxx from RAGT Seeds, and DSP 46132 and Cardif from Germinal.
The 2020 DLs provide a range of varieties for growers to select from, with parameters including dry matter yield, starch, ME and digestibility, in relation to favourable or less favourable growing conditions within the suitable maturity range for the farm location.
This diversity allows selection of varieties that best suit the needs of growers across the country.
Commenting on the new varieties, NIAB forage crop specialist Ellie Sweetman highlights the range of maturity, improving choice for growers in all conditions and locations.
She said: “On the Favourable Sites DL, Prospect is the earliest maturing of the new first choice additions with a 35.1% dry matter content at harvest.
“It also has the highest metabolisable energy (ME) and highest starch on the list at 11.98 MJ/kg DM and 34.6% respectively.
“Smoothi CS is the latest maturing at 29%, achieving top of the DL with an excellent dry matter yield of 19.3 t DM/ha and good cell wall digestibility at 57.8%.”
LiRoyal is a good all-rounder with excellent yields (18.5 t DM/ha) for its maturity (33.3%), an ME at harvest of 11.72 MJ/kg DM and a very good standing power.
KWS Calvini scores top of the DL for standing power, a character of increased interest after 2018 saw more lodging than growers had experienced for over twenty years.
Abrisse is a strong all-rounder, providing good ME and starch at 30.9% dry matter.
Ms Sweetman added: “Using the DLs to identify high ME varieties that grow well in your conditions can have a significant impact on voluntary feed intake and improved feed conversion, increasing milk and meat yield from forage.
“Higher cell wall digestibility can help support butterfat levels in dairy cows, whereas higher starch can reduce requirements for concentrate feeds, a more cost-effective option for many beef producers.”