We have updated our blog with new comprehensive information and excellent photos!
Pop over to check out these fresh pages ~
Spring is just around the bend! It’s time to plan and prepare your new food-producing lands!
Every time you prune your trees, you increase your trees carrying capacity.
Lucerne trees must not be grazed within their first 2 years, because the animals tear the branches and stunt the growth of these young trees. The aim is to have a mature tree having a thick stem of about 280mm, but being no more than 1 meter in height. The result is thick 50-75mm branches carrying very dense foliage. These branches are never grazed or damaged while the foliage is eaten off them.
Whenever you prune your trees, the roots prune themselves, fixing nitrogen in your soils.
Every pruning should give you up to 40kg of plant material off a 3-year-old tree. In the case where you have established 2000 trees in a hectare, this will amount to 80 tonnes of silage!
Pruning is the most beneficial practice for the lucerne tree and it is an essential component of lucerne tree management.
Do NOT neglect to prune your trees!
Even the small cuttings pruned from our trees in potting bags is collected for dry feed.
(We cut our small trees still in their bags to stimulate side branch growth to form a bushy tree, rather than a long, lanky tree.)
Within 3 days the branches have dried out and with a couple good knocks against the wall, every leaf falls down, leaving neat bare branches. (A nice rainy-day job!)
We mix our leaves with some crushed mealies, some molasses and a scoop of salt and store our finishing mix in bags. And every stock farmer knows the great benefit of a good finishing mix for their lambs!
So, keep your trees short, promote side growth and collect food for storage – a win! win! win! with lucerne trees!
These trees which were established in January are showing excellent growth at 10 months!
They have not yet been grazed, but have been pruned twice to maintain 1m height and encourage lateral growth. Pruning encourages the tree to bush and prevents the tree from growing too tall and spindly for your livestock to utilize.
Many new lucerne tree farmers plant their seeds into shallow seed trays, but if you look at the following photos, you will realize that the roots are more aggressive in their growth than the leaves.
In fact, those green leaves and shoots you see sprouting out of the soil is an indication of the depth of soil needed for the roots.
This lucerne tree has an incredible tap root and side root structure. These seeds need deep 30cm trays or crates filled with coarse river sand.
Prune the growth tips of your small trees to encourage side branching when your tree reaches about 15cm. You’ll soon notice new buds develop all along the stem!
Remember that you do not add any fertilizer to your potting soil.
When you plant out your seedlings, never pull the tree up out of the soil. This strips and damages the roots, especially the fine root hairs. Most transplanted trees with this type of damage do not survive. Rather scoop deep under the little trees and lay the seedlings on their sides loosely, and gently separate each seedling. Using a nice deep stick or dibber, make a suitably wide deep hole in the potting bag soil and gently ease the roots straight down into the hole. Gently firm the soil around your seedling and water.
When you plant out your potted trees, try preserve most the soil around the roots and make a suitable deep hole in the ground. Fill the hole with water before placing your tree into the hole. Fill and gently firm the soil around the base.
We shared how our 100 ewes enjoyed 4 days on the half hectare of 8-month-old lucerne trees.
This is the “Before” ~
And here is the “After” ~
In just 50 days, these bare branches will be full of soft, fresh new leaves and ready for grazing!
These trees bounce back!
It is truly a fabulous year-round food!
We have recently put a 100 ewes in half a hectare of 8-month-old trees which were established in August 2012
The sheep grazed on these trees for 4 days, and devoured them!
(Click to follow us – we’ll share the “after” photos soon!)
What we must consider is that the trees are only 8 months old and there are absolutely no grasses between the trees. The Lucerne trees were the sole grazing.
By next year the same hectare will give us 12 day’s grazing when some grasses are established between the trees.
Here are the Lucerne trees planted out in early spring August last year.
Just 8 months later they are ready for grazing.
Irrigated with dripper lines and pruned to 1m encourage lateral branches,
these trees have flourished.
Scroll down to August 23, 2012 to see how the trees looked when they were planted.
The same tree lucerne under different circumstances, ie: irrigation, climate, soil, pruning or grazing will appear differently, but the nutritional properties will remain the same.
Clients often ask whether we have the “Cattle” type or the “Sheep” type tree. The “Sheep” type refers to a hybrid called “Weeping Tagasaste” which is a smaller, shrub-like version of the Tree Lucerne. It does not carry the same yields, and we do not stock this type of tree or seed.
Furthermore, clients recently enquire about the latest names ~ “Cattle Candy“, “Kalahari Green“, and “Kilimanjaro” tree lucerne. These are newly created trade names used by an aggressive marketing campaign, but are all the same thing ~ Tree Lucerne!
Don’t allow yourself to be mis-informed or persuaded to think that you’ll get better yields or better adaptability by planting any of these new trade names.
They are simply the same tree!