Every branch pruned in the field to maintain the optimum tree height at 1.5m is carried into a storeroom to dry.
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!
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.
There are no new varieties of Tagasaste or Tree Lucerne that require different growing conditions or which will give better yields because of the different types.
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 notstock 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.