A variety bred to improve utilisation of both leaf and stem, Bombardier kale has a digestibility of 72.2% and a dry matter content of 13.5% based on trials carried out by Limagrain UK. It has a relative dry matter yield of 18% above the control variety.
“Marrow stem kales are highly digestible and have better dry matter yields than intermediate and shorter stem varieties,” says Limagrain UK’s forage crop manager Martin Titley. “This makes them suitable forages for beef and dairy cows.
However, poor stem quality has often limited the value and attractiveness of kale as a forage for livestock. “The stem proportion may be 60% to 70% of the total yield,” adds Mr Titley. “Poor stem quality therefore can reduce the utilisation of the crop and its feed value.
“In the past, farmers have faced a bit of a dilemma when it comes to kale. If the kale crop is grazed well, then crop utilisation is good but the poor feed value in the stem will limit liveweight gain. A less well-grazed crop, where a proportion of the stem is left, will achieve better liveweight gains but poorer crop utilisation.
“Bombardier, that offers more digestible stems with added feed value and utilisation potential, can overcome this dilemma.”
Trials in New Zealand have shown that Bombardier has a high ME for the whole plant of 12.6 MJ per kg DM. But, more importantly, the ME at the bottom of the stem is 12.1MJ per kg DM; considerable higher than many other varieties.
Bombardier can be grazed or cut and zero grazed. It is expected to produce between 70 tonnes to 80 tonnes of fresh yield per hectare and between nine and 11 tonnes per hectare of dry matter.
It is best drilled in May or early June at a seed rate of 5kg per hectare. Bombardier is club root resistant and the seed can be supplied Cruiser treated for Flea beetle protection.
“The great benefit of a kale crop is its flexibility,” says Mr Titley. “It can be used any time from September to February, so it is ideal for outwintering production systems and it is a popular choice for dairy young stock, beef cattle and sheep. The added value of Bombardier will make many growers re-consider this valuable crop.”
Further details and growing advice are available by visiting lgseeds.co.uk/kale