Seeds

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Medicago truncatula

Regenerating annual pastures

Very early maturing aphid resistant barrel medic

Features
  • Very early maturing
  • Barrel shaped seed pod
  • Aphid resistance
Benefits
  • Excellent base legume for low rainfall pasture grazing
  • Good seedling vigour and winter production
  • Tolerant to grazing
Seed Agronomy Table
Flowering 90 days
Hard Seed Level (rating) 9
Waterlogging Tolerance Fair
Seeding Rate - Dryland (kg/ha) 10 - 15
Seeding Rate - High Rainfall/Irrigation (kg/ha) 15 - 20
Hard Seed Level 1 = Least Hard 10 = Most Hard • Burr Burial Strength 1 = Very Weak 10 = Very Strong
Establishment Guarantee

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  • Goldstrike LongLife®

Strengths

  • Palatable at all growth stages, including dead leaves and stems, and seedpods over summer
  • High nutritive value with high protein content
  • Fixes atmospheric nitrogen, benefiting cereal crops grown in rotation
  • As a grass-free pasture in rotation with cereals it is a disease break for various cereal pathogens including cereal cyst nematode, root lesion nematode, take-all and crown rot
  • Provides non-selective weed control options for reducing risk of herbicide resistant weeds in cropping phases (eg grazing, green manuring, hay production, spraytopping)
  • Hardseeded and once established will maintain a soil bank of seed reserves and will self-regenerate from that seed bank
  • More productive and persistent in low rainfall areas than sub clover
  • Outstanding complementary legume component for summer growing grass pastures in the subtropics

Limitations

  • Must not be sown too deeply
  • Winter production can be slow if autumn rains are late
  • Not well adapted to soils with pH (water) lower than 6.5, deep sands, waterlogged or moderately saline areas
  • Herbicide options for broadleaf weed control are limited
  • Seed harvest requires specialist vacuum harvesting machinery
  • Lush and/or pure stands can cause animal health problems

Plant Description
  • Semi-prostrate annual legume, 15 to 30 centimetres high, with metre side branches from near the base.

  • Prostrate to ascending, green and hairy.

  • Made up of three wedgeshaped leaflets, matt green, hairy on both sides and toothed on the end margin. The central leaflet stalk is longer than the other two, while in most clovers (Trifolium spp.) they are all of similar length.

  • Yellow, pea-like and in small clusters of 2 to 4.

  • Barrel shaped, 6 to 12 millimetres long, hardening when ripe, 3 to 8 coils, spines of variable length and 6 to 12 seeds per pod.

Pasture Type and Use

Used as a self-regenerating autumn to spring growing annual legume in dryland cereal/livestock zones in southern Australia, in rotation with winter cereals, grain legumes and canola, and in association with grass in permanent pastures in the subtropical grain and pastoral zone. Once established its hard seededness allows it to regenerate from a seed bank after short cropping phases of typically 1 to 3 years.

Rainfall

Barrel medic requires an annual rainfall of 250 to 700 millimetres. A growing season rainfall of 150 to 300 millimetres. Early flowering varieties are suited to lower rainfall zones.

Temperature

It is an autumn to spring growing annual, best-suited to areas with mild growing seasons (15 to 25°C.) However, it will tolerate higher and lower temperatures.

Establishment
  • Annual ryegrass, volunteer cereals or sown cereals for grass/ legume hay production, and with a range of summer growing grasses in the Subtropics.

  • Annual ryegrass, volunteer cereals or sown cereals for grass/legume hay production, and with a range of summer growing grasses in the Subtropics.

  • Other annual medics (Medicago spp.), sub clover, lucerne. Sowing/planting rates as single species: 10 to 15 kilograms per hectare in southern Australia, 4 to 6 kilograms per hectare in the subtropics. Ensure seed is Goldstrike LongLife® treated.

  • 3 to 5 kilograms per hectare in southern Australia, 2 to 3 kilograms per hectare in the subtropics (3 to 4 kilograms per hectare if undersown with crops). Undersowing with cereal grain or forage crops is an excellent management option for establishing barrel medic. Low sowing rates of the cereal grain crop (e.g. 15 kilograms per hectare) are essential for success with undersowing. Ensure seed is Goldstrike LongLife® treated.

  • Sown April-June. Typically dry sown into the previous year’s cereal stubble before the opening rains or into a moist, weedfree seedbed soon after the break. Shallow sowing (1-2 cm) is essential with press wheels, harrows or prickle chains to improve soil-seed contact and establishment.

  • Goldstrike LongLife® Treated. The use of Goldstrike LongLife® seed treatment is recommended to reduce damage from insects at seedling stages.

  • Phosphorous is generally the single most limiting macronutrient for barrel medics; sulphur may be required on some soils in the subtropics. Some soils, particularly infertile sands, may also be deficient in important trace elements (eg. Cu, Zn, Mo and Co), some of which are directly involved in nitrogen fixation.

Management
  • Generally barrel medics are grown in fairly close rotation with other crops which, if adequately fertilised, provide enough residual nutrients to maintain general soil fertility and medic growth. However, when sown in extended pasture phases on infertile soils in both southern Australia and the subtropics are likely to require topdressing with superphosphate at least. Soil testing is required to determine the need, timing and appropriate application rates. The trend towards high analysis fertilisers (eg. DAP, MAP) in broadacre farming has also resulted in zinc deficiencies becoming more common on some soil types. Plant tissue testing is a more sensitive test for micronutrient deficiencies, some of which can be addressed in the short term with foliar sprays.

  • Establishment: defer grazing in the first year until plants are well established and then only graze lightly until flowering. Remove stock until medic has finished flowering and producing pods, to maximise seed-set for subsequent regeneration. Paddocks should not be “crash” grazed or cut for hay in the first year if the stand is expected to regenerate.

  • Low environmental weed potential due to its preference for moderately fertile soils, and because of its specific rhizobial requirements, high palatability and readily grazing preference. As a selfregenerating plant it can be a weed of crops in crop/pasture rotations but easily controlled in cereals with a range of inexpensive broadleaf weed herbicides. Fewer options in grain legumes crops.

  • Red legged earth mite, lucerne flea, blue green aphid, spotted alfalfa aphid, cowpea aphid, sitona weevil.

  • Phoma black-stem, rhizoctonia bare-patch, root lesion nematode and powdery mildew.

  • Tolerant of grass-selective herbicides. Some herbicides available for selective control of certain broadleaf weeds. Spray-grazing and spray-topping techniques using less selective herbicides also available. Intolerant of some herbicide residues from cropping phase, particularly sulfonylurea herbicide residues in low rainfall areas with alkaline soils.

  • In crop/medic rotation systems, it is best to defer grazing at the break of the season until the ground is covered and/or medics are well established (approx. 6 leaves, 2 to 3 centimetres height, less than 1000 kilograms per hectare dry matter). Set stock to control upright grasses, weeds and to encourage prostrate growth, increasing grazing pressure as necessary to prevent overly ‘bulky’ pastures in early spring. Reduce grazing pressure if possible whilst medic are flowering to maximise pod and seed-set. In grass/medic pastures in the subtropics, moderate to heavy grazing in the late summer is needed to utilise the grass and minimise the competition for light by the establishing medic. This grazing management should be applied sequentially year by year as it will not be possible or desirable to graze all paddocks in this way each year. Summer grazing (southern Australia) carefully monitor grazing of dried residues over summer, as over grazing of pods, especially in the first year and on hard setting soils, will reduce future pasture regeneration.

Animal Production
  • Has high levels of crude protein and digestibility. Digestibility ranges from 55 to 75 per cent DMD, (equates to ME energy of 8 to 10 megajoules per kilogram DM) and crude protein from 17 to 23 per cent depending on growth stage.

  • Highly palatable.

Additional Information
Pratylenchus neglectus Res. True forage oat, with excellent palatabilityLong season of production for high yieldsExcellent dual purpose variety

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