Picking the right sowing date for chicory is always a critical decision.
If we sow too early, when conditions are too cold, the crop is slow to establish. Competition from weeds can also be more of a problem, because they can germinate and start growing before the chicory does.
Another risk with sowing too early is that a heavy late frost can kill chicory seedlings as they’re germinating. This doesn’t happen very often, but we did see it on a few occasions last year.
However, there are also downsides to sowing too late. The first is that late sowing delays your first and subsequent grazings.
More importantly, if we sow too late, and conditions turn dry sooner than expected, your crop will not have enough moisture to yield to its potential, so you won’t get as much feed as you planned.
This season, the sowing date decision is further complicated by unavoidable delays in 501 Chicory seed supply, caused by global COVID-19 shipping disruptions. We are working hard to get seed to market as quickly as possible, but if you want to sow chicory in early October, you may need to consider another variety.
As a general rule, don’t sow before 1 of October and you want to be confident the soil is consistently above 12 degrees C and rising before drilling chicory.
Once you feel the time is right for sowing, here are some other tips that may be useful.
- Choose an effluent paddock, if you haven’t already. 501 Chicory soaks up high levels of soil nitrogen and potassium more efficiently than turnips or maize, allowing these to be re-distributed evenly around the farm.
- Sow AGRICOTE treated 501 Chicory seed at 10 kg/ha. AGRICOTE will protect the small germinating seedlings from insect pests.
- Sow shallow – no deeper than 1 cm. Chicory seed is very small.
- Regardless of whether you direct drill or cultivate, protect seed with slug bait this spring. Slug pressure is high.
- Roll the paddock before and after sowing. Good seed to soil contact will speed up germination.
- Fertilise according to advice from your soil and plant nutrient expert.
- Control broadleaf and grass weeds with appropriate herbicides.
- Graze at Red Band gumboot height, when plants have seven or eight leaves.