Pod holding medic

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What is pod holding medic?

Pod holding medic has been bred by Pristine Forage Technologies in South Australia to hold its pods on the plant. Naturally medic sheds its pods quickly and for the last 70 or 80 years medic pods have been harvested off the ground using brooms or suction. This has been a slow and expensive process. Pod holding cultivars allow medic pods to be harvested directly from the medic plant using a standard cereal harvester with some adjustments. Yields of pods are higher and harvesting costs substantially reduced.

Like the ICARDA medic harvester it changes medic seed and pod production from a specialist operation to one that can be carried out on any farm. This has the effect of reducing costs even further as the marketing chain is eliminated or reduced to neighbour to neighbour sales.

At present there is a limited range of medic cultivars available but it is being expanded.

Jaguar

Jaguar is a pod holding cultivar of strand medic similar to Herald. It is suited to medium rainfall zones and neutral to alkaline soils with a light texture. Seed is commercially available.

This photo shows dry Jaguar medic with few pods on the ground.

This photo taken at the same time shows the abundant pods dropped on the ground by the Herald cultivar of medic.

Cheetah and Lynx

These are pod holding cultivars of barrel medic suited to loams and clay soils. Cheetah is highly drought evasive and suited to low rainfall zones. Lynx is suited to medium rainfall zones and heavier soil types. These two cultivars are currently being multiplied and commercial seed should be available after the 2010 harvest.

How to use P-H medic

Pod holding medic can be used in the traditional method of sowing medic pasture from seed. The harvested pods are threshed and the clean seed is sown in the normal way.

Alternatively the pods can be sown as described in Sowing with pods.

Using P-H medic in pastures.

While the production of low cost seed and pods is extremely important it can only be justified if the final outcome in terms of pasture production is equal to traditional medic cultivars.

The production of P-H medics seems to be as good as traditional medics but there needs to be an increased attention to managing the dry medic pods in spring and summer. With traditional medic these quickly fall on the ground when ripe. Once the pods are on the ground they are difficult for the sheep to harvest and therefore the farmer has more time to monitor their consumption. Even then overgrazing during the period of pod ripening can cause an excessive loss of pods and poor regeneration of the medic pasture in future years. With P-H medic this period of pod retention will be much longer and there is a greater danger of excessive consumption of pods. As long as farmers are aware of the dangers they can take appropriate action by removing their sheep.

I have state elsewhere that the WANA region has a great range of natural ecotypes of medic. Once medics have been introduced and managed these ecotypes will return. It seems to me that P-H medic has an important part to play. It can provide cheap abundant seed or pods. If it is excessively grazed over the years because of the pod holding character other medics will take its place. The P-H medic becomes a starter pasture and other medics will become dominant over time.

If there are any concerns about the ability of native medics to invade the pasture one can also sow a mixture of seed or pods with P-H medic as the dominant component on the grounds of cost and the others to provide a back up in case the spring grazing of the medic pasture reduces the ability of the P-H medic to regenerate.

Contact

Pristine Forage Technologies can be contacted at www.pristineforage.com.au and info@pristineforage.com.au

Andrew Lake of Pristine Forage Technologies informs me that the pod holding gene is patent protected in Europe and other wealth regions (royalties must be paid for its use) but not in WANA.