Lucerne

Lucerne is the world’s most widely grown forage crop for ruminants. In recent years there has been a resurgence in the growing of Lucerne as farmers strive to produce more home grown protein. The impressive performance of Lucerne in the hot dry season of 2018 has further stimulated interest. Lucerne thrives on free draining, high pH soils, especially in drier areas of the UK. The option within CAP reform to grow legumes as a form of Environmental Focus Area has also boosted interest. The benefits of Lucerne are listed below. Lucerne is not suited to all farms, it is relatively slow to establish and needs specific field management and careful ensiling, so some of its drawbacks are also listed in the Growers Guidelines.

Lucerne Varieties

There is limited testing in the UK, but there is excellent testing in Northern France where soils are similar to those of central, east and south-east of the UK. These French trials combined with UK and Scandinavian trials have proved a reliable source of data.

See variety table below:

Variety

Mean DM Yield 

Protein Content 

Spring Vigour

Persistence 

Eelworm Resistance 

Verticillium Resistance

  T DM/ha % 10 = best 10 = best 10 = best 10 = best
Mezzo 17.7 19.2 4.5 7.9 6.9 6.6
Sibemol 17.7 19.2 4.8 7.5 7.0 6.9
Artemis 17.4 18.9 6.2 9.0 8.0 5.7
Galaxie 17.0 19.4 6.1 7.9 6.5 5.7
Timbale 16.7 19.6 - - 5.7 5.7
Luzelle (15.6) (19.7) - Very High (5.7) (4.1)

*Data extracted from the French Recommended List 2019, except grazing variety Luzelle, where the data is taken from a previous season when it was included.