|Seed Type||Weight in kg|
The main difference between diploid and tetraploid ryegrass is the number of chromosomes per cell. Diploid plants have two sets of chromosomes per cell whilst tetraploids have four. As a result Tetraploids have an increased cell size and have a higher ratio of cell contents (soluble carbohydrates) to cell wall (fibre). This means that tetraploids have a higher water content per cell and are more palatable. This leads to a high graze out of livestock. However with less tillers tetraploids have a worse ground cover rate which can leave a gappy sward. This can be good for allowing clover to grow but can if are the only grass in a sward can leave the pasture exposed to poaching. Diploid in comparison have more tillers per plant meaning they will have better ground cover than tetraploids. Due to the lower water content per cell, diploids have a higher dry matter per kg of feed, meaning they cure and wilt easier when making hay or silage. They also offer more energy than tetraploid plants. Both diploid and tetraploid plants will have similar protein levels. A mix of both is required regardless of what you are looking from your grass. However a higher percentage of tetraploid is better for grazing while a greater number of Diploids is more advisable for silage or hay meadows.
Tetraploid ryegrasses offer several benefits in terms of animal performance. Due to the higher ratio of cell contents to cell wall, tetraploid plants offer several benefits for animal performance. One benefit is that it is more palatable to animals which improves intake and therefore leads to an increased animal production. In addition tetraploid cells consist of easily available nutrients, such as sugars and starches necessary for more efficient rumen function. However it is important to remember that tetraploids higher water content in the cells so when livestock are full from grazing the actual dry matter intake could be lower compared to that of diploids plants. A mix of tetraploid and diploid ryegrass could achieve a more balanced pasture, retaining a good level of dry matter production, an improved balance of quality feed and if used for silage will be more easily cured than a pure tetraploid pasture.
It is important to monitor grazing pressures on tetraploid ryegrasses as they are sensitive to overgrazing because of their excellent palatability. If grazing occurs to a lower level than with diploid ryegrasses it may compromise persistence. Similar to diploid ryegrasses, tetraploid ryegrass require nitrogen applications to a similar level to ensure good growth after grazing.
Tetraploid ryegrasses have higher establishment costs than diploids as the recommended sowing rate for tetraploids is higher due to the larger size of the seed (2-3 times heavier). If planting tetraploid ryegrass in a mix, the plants will allow up to 10% more clover in the pasture due to the reduced tiller density promoting an increased pasture quality.
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