Perennial Chicory Growers’ Guide

Enhanced grazing potential with perennial chicory

Perennial chicory is a broad-leaved forage crop that has in recent years become established as a valuable pasture herb for inclusion in grazing mixtures. The market leading variety Puna II now widely used in the UK. Puna II offers high yields of very palatable and nutritious fodder for grazing livestock. It is typically grown as a key part of mixed swards with grass and clover for medium-long term rotational grazing (2 to 4-year persistency).

Key benefits

  • Outstanding animal performance (e.g. lamb growth rates of 300-400g/day).
  • Yields up to 15tDM/ha in a season; crude protein up to 25%; D-value 70-80.
  • High mineral content, including zinc, potassium and copper.
  • Good tolerance to drought, acid soils and major pests.
  • Rapid regrowth after grazing.
  • Reduces the effect of internal parasites and does not cause bloat.
  • Provides high quality feed through the summer.

Successful establishment

  • Control broad-leaved weeds before sowing.
  • Sow in spring or no later than mid-September.
  • Seed rate 1-2.5kg/ha (with grass/clover); 4-6kg/ha (pure stand); 4kg/ha (white/red clover).
  • Well-drained soils.
  • Drill to a maximum depth of 10mm, or broadcast.
  • Fertiliser requirements similar to grass.
  • Use slug pellets to improve establishment.

Managing Puna II

  • Graze when crop height reaches 150-200mm (and when plants are resistant to uprooting).
  • Rotationally graze for best results (ideally short, light spells in year one).
  • Grazing strategy should aim to avoid flower heads developing.
  • Avoid damage to the crown (e.g. hard grazing in wet conditions), as this will reduce productivity and persistency.
  • Limit milking cows to 25% of total dry matter intake to avoid risks of milk taint.
  • If perennial chicory gets out of control, either graze with cattle or top. Grazing is preferable because topping can allow water to penetrate the hollow stem and this can kill the plant.
  • Growth rates will drop if soil temperature falls below 10°C.
  • Perennial chicory responds well to nitrogen (it does not fix N).

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