Kale is a Winter hardy, high yielding brassica crop. Kale is a protein rich crop that is normally fed ‘in situ’ over Winter so consideration needs to be given to land type. Kales Winter hardiness makes it flexible in terms of when it is grazed. Crops can be sown between April – July and then grazed from August to March. There are different varieties of Kale on the market but it is best to use a high digestibility variety with good leaf to stem ratio as this will impact grazing intakes and crop utilisation.
Kale is capable of producing high yields with 8-10 tonne DM/ha normally being produced. Secondary regrowth is not seen in Kale so the aim is to optimise utilisation when being grazed.
Traditionally, Kale is grazed in situ but it can be zero grazed. When grazing, the aim is to optimise intakes and reduce waste. Sufficient space for grazing animals is key to this so strip - grazing across the width of the field is preferable. As with all brassica crops mineral supplementation must be considered and a fibre source should be provided.
WEEDS, DISEASES & PEST CONTROL:
Pre emergence spraying is normally effective in kale. The crop canopy tends to shade out weeds once the crop is up and growing. Crops should be monitored regularly for slugs and flea beetle damage. Clubroot represents the main disease threat. It is a soil-borne disease, so avoid planting kale or indeed forage rape where there is a history of clubroot.
Sowing time: April – July
Sowing rate: 2-3 kg/acre (Direct drill)
5 kg/acre (Broadcasting)
YIELD & FEED QUALITY
Average DM yield: 8 - 10 tonne DM/ha
Dry Matter: 13 – 16 %
Crude protein: 16-18%
Digestibility: 66 - 70% (D value)
Metabolisable energy: 9 – 10.5 Mj/kg DM