Looking for a source of quick growing winter feed, Brett Harrigan decided to shake, not stir, things up and try a new oat variety, Bond, on his family dairy, Harrigan Farming Company, at Nobby, south of Toowoomba.
Bond, a newly released forage oats variety is medium to late maturing, with a flowering date 7–10 days earlier than Taipan, the current region benchmark. It has a semi-erect growth habit and is quicker to establish than other varieties.
Running a 300 strong Friesian dairy herd, the Harrigans, Brett and his wife Megan along with his parents, Warren and Jenny, planted a small block of Bond forage oats, following a forage sorghum crop, to compare it to other oat varieties they have on the farm.
Grazing winter cereals forms a large part of the Harrigan’s winter feed component, they had been using the current market leading varieties, Drover and Comet, but decided to try Bond due to its high levels of leaf rust resistance.
The Bond was planted late in the season, in early July at a rate of 50kg/ha with 50kg/ha of urea. In-crop herbicides were also applied for broadleaf weed control.
Brett said, “The Bond wasn’t planted until late but it has done really well. It’s still nice and clean without any sign of leaf rust and at mid-October it’s still not got a head on it. Bond and Comet are the only two varieties still to be free of rust.”
Bond has been bred with high level resistance to current races of leaf rust (P. coronata). In the 2016 Forage Oat Variety Guide (QLD DAF) it was awarded a rating of 9, highly resistant, with forage yields unlikely to be reduced by leaf rust.
The crop was grazed in late October, later than planned, and Harrigan’s dairy herd still found the Bond to be highly palatable as Brett explains, “the cattle grazed it well, and they did really well on it. They accepted it really well, particularly when you consider the crops age. Nothing much was left.”
Bond has a strong tillering ability with a mixture of fine, thin and medium sized stems with broad leaves. This assists with recovery after grazing or cutting.
It has also exhibited high drymatter production and in 2014 yield trials conducted at Lockyer Bond yielded 2.25t DM/ha above Taipan after 3 harvests.
The Harrigan’s baled a couple of hectares of Bond and were surprised at the yield and quality of hay produced. Subsequently they also bought in more oaten hay which was also made from Bond.
After their experience this season the Harrigan’s “will definitely be planting Bond again next year.”