Availability of seed for hill country adapted forage legumes


  • S. Monk
  • D.J. Moot
  • B. Belgrave
  • M.P. Rolston
  • J.R. Caradus


New Zealand hill and high country are marginal environments for perennial ryegrass and white clover. Other pasture species, particularly legumes, provide more productive and persistent options for the range of soil climate and topography found in these environments. On cultivatable hill country, lucerne (alfalfa) has been successfully introduced to dryland areas with imported seed increasing five-fold to 210 t per annum over the last decade. This has led to the first release of a New Zealand selected cultivar in 20 years. For subterranean clover reliance on hardseeded Australian cultivars that frequently fail to meet New Zealand biosecurity standards means seed supply is inconsistent. The potential exists to create a niche seed market through selection of locally adapted material grown for seed in New Zealand. Lotus pedunculatus is available commercially but seed often fails to meet certification standards and is predominantly used in forestry. Lotus corniculatus requires agronomic research to overcome some management constraints and the re-establishment of seed supply before it would be a viable option for drier hill country. Seed production for perennial lupins in New Zealand is predominantly for an export ornamental market, with some direct relationships with growers allowing onfarm use. Caucasian clover seed production has ceased in New Zealand and the demand for seed particularly from high country farmers is no longer met. The smallseeded annual balansa clover is being integrated into farm systems and its prolific seeding has enabled some on-farm production of seed for personal use. For it and arrowleaf and Persian clovers, imported cultivars are available and a local market is unlikely to thrive until agronomic and hard seed issues are addressed. Seed supply of forage legumes to satisfy demand for hill country is problematic and will require development of different models including grower co-ops, regional seed retailers, and on-farm production for niche markets. Keywords: alfalfa, Lolium perenne, Lupinus polyphyllus, Medicago sativa, perennial ryegrass, Sitona lepidus, Trifolium ambiguum, Trifolium michelianum, Trifolium repens, Trifolium resupinatum, Trifolium subterraneum, Trifolium tumens, Trifolium vesiculosum, white clover






Past volumes