Adapted and high-yielding varieties of forage plants are important for Switzerland as a grassland country. Hybrid ryegrass is a versatile forage grass that, thanks to breeding advances, has become even more persistent, disease-resistant and high-yielding over the past 30 years.
Created by crossing Italian and perennial ryegrass, hybrid ryegrass combines the high yield potential of Italian with the persistence of perennial ryegrass. Based on the type of growth and similarity to the parent species, hybrid ryegrass varieties are classified into three types: Italian, perennial and intermediate.
Depending on type, hybrid ryegrasses are suitable for grazing and/or mowing. In suitable locations with mild climates and adequate water and nutrient supplies, ryegrasses produce large amounts of palatable forage.
New, higher-yielding varieties
Ryegrasses based on ecotype populations have been bred for over 60 years at Agroscope. In this study, Agroscope’s intermediate hybrid ryegrass varieties and variety candidates were compared in plot trials from 1991 to 2018. In summary, today’s varieties produce higher dry-matter yields and are significantly more persistent than older varieties.
Digestibility, however, has not been improved to the same extent. This trait is measured by a labour-intensive laboratory procedure and is therefore not taken into account as a standard criterion in the breeding process.
New varieties ‘Salaria’ and ‘Galaxias’
The new tetraploid varieties from Agroscope, ‘Salaria’ and ‘Galaxias’, reflect these advances in breeding: with high yields and good resistance to bacterial wilt they scored well in the official variety testing, and were therefore included in the list of recommended intermediate hybrid ryegrass varieties.
- Hybrid ryegrass has been greatly improved through breeding. Newer varieties are even more persistent, disease-resistant and high-yielding.
- Less breeding progress has been achieved in terms of digestibility. Measured in a time-consuming laboratory process, digestibility is not (yet) a standard selection criterion in the ryegrass breeding process.
- Agroscope’s new tetraploid varieties ‘Salaria’ and ‘Galaxias’ reflect this progress and have been included in the list of recommended forage varieties.