Setting up summer chicory crops for bumper yields and grazing

With warming soil temperatures, summer crops of 501 Chicory will soon be in the ground, if they are not already. As well as providing palatable, high quality, multi-graze feed for lactating cows, this cultivar has excellent DM yield potential.


So what can you do to maximise its establishment and grazing performance? The first step is to sow early, as soon as soil temperatures are 12⁰C and rising.


Aim for a fine, weed-free seed bed, and remember that chicory seed needs to be sown shallow, never deeper than 1 cm. If you’re direct drilling, pay close attention to depth control.


For a straight crop of 501 Chicory, the best sowing rate is 10 kg/ha, using AGRICOTE-treated seed.


Good seedbed preparation, and rolling the seed before and after sowing, helps encourage uniform germination, not only of the crop itself but also any weeds which might still be in the soil.


This makes it easier to pick the right time for post-emergence weed control, if required. Seek specialist advice before applying any crop protection to ensure you are targeting the right species.


Chicory usually germinates quickly, but young plants then seem to sit and look like they’re not doing much for about four weeks.


Don’t worry. They are putting energy into the development of their deep tap root, which helps them tolerate dry spells over summer better than ryegrass.


501 Chicory crops should be ready to graze when the plants have seven or eight leaves. Keep an eye on them, because they will reach this stage quicker than other cultivars.


Cows should go onto the crop when it’s 30 cm high, and be taken off when they have grazed it down to 3 cm. Care needs to be taken in wet conditions to avoid damaging the crown of plant.