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New High Quality Grass Hybrid Makes its UK Debut


At a time of growing concern amongst livestock producers about the long-term effect that grass shortages could have on livestock performance, a new drought tolerant grass hybrid is expected to have a significant impact on the grass market.

Perseus, which is about to make its UK debut in grass mixtures available from leading rural specialist Countrywide, has been developed by DLFTrifolium and is particularly effective in areas where grass is short or prone to dry conditions. Perseus gives farmers the opportunity to take advantage of the very latest advancements in grass breeding technology.

Perseus belongs to the new Festulolium hybrid grass seed species and is a cross between a fescue and a ryegrass.

Simon Trenary is an agronomist with Countrywide, a significant breeding effort has gone into this new category of grass which has been specifically developed to produce a high quality, high yielding grass that is drought tolerant and can withstand higher levels of stress and climatic extremes when compared to traditional ryegrass species.

Countrywide have been closely monitoring trials of Festulolium during the last two years as Mr Trenary explains during early trials the tall fescue/Italian cross was too coarse a variety for grazing and cutting mixtures. To address these issues those early Festuloliums were back-crossed with a ryegrass, which has produced a more advanced plant type. These new Advanced Hybrid Ryegrasses are now suitable for both catch crop requirements and grass mixtures.

Perseus has performed exceptionally well in the UK during tests at DLFs UK breeding and research centre in Gloucestershire. In the first year UK trials, where stress was not a limiting factor, Perseus out-yielded perennial rye-grass by 31%. In the same UK trial Perseus showed quality improvements over Italian ryegrass and was only slightly below perennial ryegrass with an ME of 11.3MJ/kgDM compared to perennial ryegrass at 11.4MK/kgDM. Also the re-growth after cutting was very noticeable after just five days.

One of the essential elements in the breeding of Festulolium has been to create varieties with a high content of digestible cell wall (NDF). By achieving this, fibre levels can be maintained without reducing feed value. This has significant benefit to the grazing animal as fibre is an essential component for rumen health.

According to DLF Trifolium, although Perseus performs in the field just like Italian Ryegrass its main advantage is the tolerance of stress that results in significant improvements in resistance. In independent trials carried out in Denmark, Perseus was still out yielding perennial ryegrass by 24% in the third year. In the same situation, Italian ryegrass would have almost certainly disappeared by year three.

Results from Holland, where the variety was under greater stress, demonstrated that it is capable of producing almost twice the dry matter yield of perennial ryegrass.

We plan to use Festuloliums as an option for farmers in our range of grass mixtures says Melanie Digger, Arable Manager at Countrywide. It is an ideal companion to Italian Ryegrass in the Countrywide catch crop mixture and will give our customers a unique opportunity to benefit from new developments in grass breeding.


  • Countrywide is the UKs leading supplier of quality products and services supporting the rural community.

  • Countrywide has a reputation for delivering a high-quality, personalised service, by its 1,000 experienced and knowledgeable staff.

  • Focusing on three specialist areas – Agriculture, Energy and Retail, Countrywides business turnover was 216 million in 2008/9, a 13% increase over the previous year.

  • In Agriculture, Countrywides expertise offers products and related services for the livestock, arable and turf and amenity sectors, delivered through 40 farming specialists and an in-house support team.

  • Countrywide has over 50 years experience of providing Energy and now offers a wide range of fuel products and support services, including autogas, cylinders, LP gas and a range of bio-renewable fuels.

  • Countrywides 46 country Retail stores in England and Wales, and a 24/7 on-line service, sell a vast range of rural goods to a growing group of customers, including over 40,000 account holders. In-store experts offer specialist knowledge of equine, agriculture and pets.

  • For information about Countrywide shares visit Find more general information about Countrywide at

With the drier growing seasons we have witnessed in recent years, this is a real step forward in ensuring farmers will have plenty of high quality forage despite the trickier growing conditions.

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