Perennial chicory: Growers’ guide

Perennial chicory is a broad-leaved forage crop that has in recent years become established as a valuable pasture herb for inclusion in grazing mixtures. The market-leading variety Puna II perennial chicory seed is now widely used in the UK.

Puna II offers high yields of very palatable and nutritious fodder for grazing livestock. It is typically grown as a key part of mixed swards with grass and clover for medium-long term rotational grazing (two to four-year persistency).

Key benefits

  • Outstanding animal performance (e.g. lamb growth rates of 300-400 g/day)
  • Yields up to 15 t DM/ha in a season; crude protein up to 25%; D-value 70-80
  • High mineral content, including zinc, potassium and copper
  • Good tolerance to drought, acid soils and major pests
  • Rapid regrowth after grazing
  • Reduces the effect of internal parasites and does not cause bloat
  • Provides high-quality feed through the summer

Successful establishment

  • Control broad-leaved weeds before sowing
  • Sow in spring or no later than mid-September
  • Seed rate 1-2.5 kg/ha (with grass/clover); 4-6 kg/ha (pure stand); 4 kg/ha (white/red clover)
  • Well-drained soils
  • Drill to a maximum depth of 10 mm, or broadcast
  • Fertiliser requirements similar to grass
  • Use slug pellets to improve establishment

Managing Puna II chicory

  • Graze when crop height reaches 150-200 mm (and when plants are resistant to uprooting)
  • Rotationally graze for best results (ideally short, light spells in year one).
  • Grazing strategy should aim to avoid flower heads developing
  • Avoid damage to the crown (e.g. hard grazing in wet conditions), as this will reduce productivity and persistency
  • Limit milking cows to 25% of total dry matter intake to avoid risks of milk taint
  • If perennial chicory gets out of control, either graze with cattle or top. Grazing is preferable because topping can allow water to penetrate the hollow stem and this can kill the plant
  • Growth rates will drop if soil temperature falls below 10°C
  • Perennial chicory responds well to nitrogen (it does not fix N)

Perennial chicory: Growers’ guide


Perennial chicory seed can be grown effectively alongside Tonic plantain in multi-species because both are competitive. This leafy forage crop is highly palatable and can boost animal performance while offering good disease resistance and insect tolerance.

High in minerals

Puna II perennial chicory seed can be sown by farmers seeking homegrown forage with high yields from spring to autumn and with strong mineral content, including calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium, sodium and zinc.

Drought tolerant

After perennial chicory seed has been sown and the crop establishes, the plant offers a deep taproot that can improve drought tolerance, which is ideal for the heat extremes that are now common in the UK.

Beware of chicory bolting

When trying to grow perennial chicory, please be wary that the plant is prone to bolting and produces a tall, woody stem that is difficult to mow and leaves behind a stalk that needs to be discarded.

Having said that, perennial chicory is well-suited to rotational grazing and intensive grazing while offering anthelmintic properties to help expel internal parasites from livestock.

Tonic plantain is a viable complement alongside chicory in multi-species swards. For specialist advice, you can contact a Germinal forage expert.

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