Father and son team Rod and Jared Opie have been realising the benefits of growing Sovereign kale to winter beef cattle on for the past decade. On their beef finishing and mixed cropping farm on the Canterbury plains, the Opie’s are able to use Sovereign in conjunction with their intensive cropping rotations to ensure that they have a product that fits their system and provides consistent, good quality feed for their livestock over the winter months.
Over the years the Opie’s have stuck with Sovereign as it has a very good fit in their farming system, offering consistent and reliable yields. “We have used it for the last 10 – 12 years and have never seen a reason to move away from it. It has been a proven performer on our property,” explains Jared.
Sovereign has been a solid performer across Canterbury, becoming very popular in the 2000’s showing good yield potential and outstanding quality. In any kale, the leaf component of the plant is where the quality is at its greatest. With Sovereign’s leaf making up nearly 50% of total yield along with it producing a thin stem, Sovereign is able to hold quality, resulting in high intake and utilisation while achieving an average yield of 12 – 14 t DM/ha and a yield potential of 18 + t DM/ha. Sovereign will hold its quality right through the winter.
Sowing date and timing of grazing can impact the yield potential. Traditionally kale is sown between late November and early December with grazing occurring from May onwards (18 – 24 weeks post sowing). However, January or early February sowing is a genuine alternative to sowing rape at this time. The benefits are that Sovereign has no ripening requirement and will hold its leaf for longer and maintain stem quality while still having a potential yield of 8 – 10 t DM/ha.
Being one of the latest flowering kales on the market, Sovereign is a very attractive option for the late grazing environments around Canterbury as it will last and maintain quality until the start of October before the onset of flowering.
In a system where cattle are brought in as R1’s, taken through the winter on kale and finished on grass in the spring as 2 year olds, the Opie’s need a winter feed option that they can rely on. The late flowering trait of Sovereign works extremely well within their rotation given that their goal is to drill at the beginning of January following Watties peas in order to have a good yielding, high quality crop that can be grazed right up until the beginning of September.
Rod’s conclusion is simple, “Sovereign provides us with a good quality, consistent yield that can almost be guaranteed year in, year out.”
Sovereign has proven to be a reliable performing, user friendly kale over a long time and is an attractive investment for consistent, good quality winter feed on farm.