LILJEROS – new high yielding Timothy variety developed for Nordic growing conditions

Timothy is the most widely grown forage grass in Norway, and also the most important species in Graminor’s forage-grass breeding programme. It has good feed quality and palatability. Sales of timothy seed in Norway exceeded 1000 tons for the first time in 2018.

Liljeros timothy gives higher yields

In Graminor’s internal trials, Liljeros gave 2-4 % higher yields than the standard variety. Results from the official VCU trials showed that Liljeros yielded the same as, and at certain sites better than the standard variety Grindstad. In an independent variety trial of timothy conducted by NIBIO at 16 different sites, Liljeros gave as much as 7 % higher yields than the standard variety, depending on site and age of ley (Tables 1 and 2). In addition to high yields, Liljeros has other good traits, such as winter survival and frost hardiness, longevity and high forage quality. Net energy figures from independent variety trials in southwest Norway, based on data from three cuts on first and second-year leys, were 0.840 and 0.828 feed units pr kg DM for Liljeros and Grindstad, respectively.

A new variety must be better than varieties currently in the marked

Liljeros is one of the newest timothy varieties in Graminor’s assortment and on the Norwegian market in general. Development of the variety began in the 1990s. The breeder at the time, Petter Marum, saw the potential of this variety early on. Breeding new varieties of perennial crops is a long process, and in order to gain access to the market, a new variety must be an improvement over existing ones. It can easily take 20 years from the first crosses to the approval of the new variety. On top of that, it takes at least four years to multiply the seed for market access.

The first step in breeding is to identify suitable parents. This is done by crossing parents and testing their offspring for the desired traits. The parent clones that give the best offspring are then used as parent stock for creating new varieties. Potential candidates are first tested internally by Graminor in 3-4 different places. The most promising varieties from these trials are then subjected to VCU trials before being admitted to the national list of approved varieties.

Official VCU testing in Norway is performed under the auspices of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority and carried out by the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO) at the following five locations: Holt (Troms, for northern Norway), Kvithammar (Trøndelag, for central Norway), Apelsvoll (Toten, for eastern Norway), Løken (Valdres, for the mountain regions of southern Norway), and either Fureneset or Særheim (for western Norway).

Thanks to the combination of 20 years of committed work and a wee bit of luck, Liljeros is now on the market in Norway. Liljeros timothy can be found in the assortment of all Norwegian seed companies: Felleskjøpet Rogaland, Strand Unikorn and Felleskjøpet Agri. Liljeros is also being tested in Sweden and Finland.

Table 1. Independent variety trials in southwest Norway, established in 2013 (Data from NIBIO). All yields as kg DM pr daa (0.1 ha).

Sort = Variety

1 engår = 1st-year ley

2 engår = 2nd-year ley

3 engår = 3rd-year ley

Snitt = Average yield

Rel verdi = Relative yield

Table 2. Independent variety trials for timothy, established in 2013. Average yields of three harvest years (2014, 2015, 2016) at 11-16 sites (Data from NIBIO).

Kolonne 2: Average yield, all years; as kg DM pr daa (0.1 ha)