My relationship to forage grasses is biased.

I grew up on a dairy farm and was busy during summers making hay. At those days the first silage yield was harvested end of June in Oulu area (65 degree Northern latitude). So silage making took place at the same time than other Finns were celebrating mid-night summer. Nowaways, due to the climate change and better grass cultivars, dairy farmers in Northern Finland start harvesting during the first two weeks of June and can fully participate mid-summer celebrations.

But there is something very exciting in grassland research, it has always facinated me. Basically, you can identify similar responses for example to environmental cues than in any other species. We identified vernalization responsive genes in timothy, learned that they are rather similarly regulated than in cereals. But what does vernalization response mean to the yield formation of forage grasses? Do we want it more or less? The management of forage grasses is complex compared to cereals. You want cereals to flower once per year. But grasses, you would like them to produce flowering tillers several times per growing season as we harvest the swards many times. And yet they should stop growing when day length decreases rapidly in autumn. To conclude, I think forage grasses will keep me busy and active for a long long time.

Mervi Seppänen