Forage seed production: 75 years applying science and technology


  • M.P. Rolston
  • R.J. Chynoweth
  • A.V. Stewart



Forage seed (brassica, grass and legume species) is the delivery vehicle for new plant genetics to the pastoral sector. Seed production technology associated with the release of the first bred pasture cultivars in the 1930s was largely based around horse-drawn reaper and binders and stationary threshing machines. The development of authenticity and quality controls also started in the 1930s with the NZ Seed Certification Scheme. Management inputs were minimal with closing and harvest dates being the major tools available. Over a 75 year period, seed yields have increased, with top growers now achieving seed yields that are three times greater than those reported 50 to 75 years ago. In the 1950s, harvest mechanisation developed rapidly and in the 1970s on-farm seed drying was developed. The availability of nitrogen (N) fertiliser was the first major input available for grass seed growers. The paper follows the science and changing recommendations on N rates and the eventual maximum limit achieved by additional N identified in trials in 2004. From the 1960s onwards, new herbicides have allowed for the control of a wider range of difficult to control weed species, especially the control of other grasses in ryegrass seed crops and broadleaved weeds in white clover. New generation fungicides, insecticides and plant growth regulators have provided improved management tools for increased seed yields. The paper concludes with changes in extension from Government driven (Department of Agriculture) to farmer funded R&D and extension by the Foundation for Arable Research. Keywords: ryegrass, white clover, brassica, seed production, history







Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 3 > >>