Myles and Zahn have been busy this summer!
Here are 5 hectares of 4-month-old Lucerne trees.
They were planted under drip irrigation in January 2013 and are doing very well.
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!
Our first flowers have appeared!
New life has budded on our trees.
They give off a delicate and lovely scent.
Small white flowers open and soon the trees will be buzzing with bees.
These trees will attract numerous bees to our farm and gardens.
Yet another wonderful benefit of this amazing tree.
And, in the months to come, these flowers develop into brown seed pods …
Order your seeds and trees now … ready for your spring planting.
KykNet called to ask us for an interview.
The insert will be for AgriTV on SABC 2, on Thursday 26 April at 05:30
and an Afrikaans interview for Landbousake for KykNet on 1 May at 6:30 with a repeat at 13:00.
I will post their questions and our answers soon.
Here are some Frequently Asked Questions I come across in calls and emails:
1. What is sheep lucerne?
Sheep lucerne is a name coined by a South African franchise. I believe they are referring to what is commonly called Weeping Tagasaste. It has the very same nutritional value as the Tree lucerne, but is smaller and multi-stemmed. It has not been widely propagated and there is not researched information to compare it with Tree lucerne as far as life span and drought resistance is concerned. Attempts to propagate it by seed have been unsuccessful in South Africa thus far.
2. What are the yields of the tree lucerne?
The yields per hectare per annum of dry feed is anything from 11-16 tonnes with good rains. This estimation would be for plantings of approx 1300 trees per hectare.
3. When should one plant the tree out from bags?
The very best is to wait till the tree is about 80cm in length and rabbits cannot get to their tops and the tree is strong enough to endure the extremes of both winter and summer.
4. Does it need irrigated water?
The young sapling cannot survive without water during summer. The tree will only be drought resistant or rain dependant at about 17 months old.
5. What soil types are best?
Deep soils, sandy, rocky or loam are all excellent soil types. The tree will not do well on level ground where the clay banks are close to the surface or on grounds where the water table is anywhere from surface to about 3m deep. Gradients are excellent and the run-off simulates well-drained soil.
6. Is there a preferred season to plant trees?
The size of the tree must determine the planting time, but planting in your wet season is the preferred season.
7. What are the stocking rates?
One must practise high impact grazing with stocking numbers of 200 sheep for 4-5 days on a hectare depending upon the availability of grasses between the trees. The grazing should be monitored as the sheep will eat the bark once the leaves and grass is finished.
8. Will planting Tree Lucerne be the answer to my grazing problems?
Yes and no. Yes – if your livestock count is in proportion to tree plantings. No – if you overstock your lands. This would be the case for many other grasses or animal fodder plantings. Yet the tree lucerne has really excellent immediate and long-term nutritional values and benefits – high protein levels, animals don’t get bloat, minimal mechanisation costs and it has a life span of 60-80 years. It re-defines the meaning of permanent grazing.
9. Will inoculating seed enhance germination and provide immunity and strength to young plants?
It may enhance germination, but to what extent is uncertain. The germ is exposed and is impacted by moisture and temperature. The value of inoculation is developing the ability of the roots to take in Rhizobia correctly in order to fix nitrogen in the soils. Roots with pink nodules are known to be nitrogen-fixing. In most cases the conditions of germination and propagating will determine the health and growth of the seedling.
10. What is critical for germination?
Maintaining 22-24 degrees ground temperature in winter is critical. Coarse river sand mixed with sandy topsoil or compost for good drainage and keeping the soil from drying out. Seed depth should not be more than 10mm.
Trust that these answers help. You are welcome to ask or comment.
These trees were heavily pruned to harvest the seeds a month ago.
We then sent our sheep in and they grazed the trees until they were bare.
Within 40 – 60 days the trees were bursting with new shoots.
The evidence is that pruning and grazing promote new shoots!
Tagasaste was created to be food on trees.
What a provision for 60 – 80 years!
What other grazing comes close to this?
© lucernetreefarm.wordpress.com 2012