Tall Fescue

Forage Use: Grazing Dairy, Beef, Horses, Sheep, Haylage, and Dry Hay

Tall fescue can grow in wet conditions well but is also very drought tolerant. On dairy farms tall fescue is a fabulous addition to the hay portfolio and on beef operations in the Midwest it remains the foundation of pasture systems. In the past number of years, tall fescue has made many appearances at the World Dairy Expo Forage Super Bowl! While tall fescue has long been thought of as a Southern grass, more recently it has shown it can thrive in Wisconsin and Minnesota! Our suppliers are heavily invested in tall fescue breeding programs and bring us a wide selection of varieties for the various situations we face throughout the Midwest.

Establishment

Tall fescue is fairly easy to establish, but remember, a good seed bed is at the heart of excellent stands of hay or pasture. It can be no-tilled into existing alfalfa stands (.25 to .50 inches deep) immediately after harvest. (Talk to your dealer about the proper timing for your area.) When seeding in a prepared seed bed, make sure sufficient packing has been done before and after seed is put down. Also, 20 to 30 units of N at seeding is necessary for a faster establishment.

Management

Tall fescue can be planted with alfalfa, with grass hay mixes, or simply in mono-culture for hay or pasture systems. Remember that tall fescue, like most cool season grasses, stores 90% of food for regrowth after harvest in the bottom 2 to 2.5 inches of the stem. This means that for maximum growth and production at least 3 to 4 inches of stubble should remain after harvest. Also, for top yield, we recommend 1 to 1.5 lbs of available N for each day of growth. Tall fescue can tolerate less than ideal fertility but, like most crops, it gives best yield and quality in balanced soils. Tall fescue is the best grass for stockpile grazing.

Note: All varieties are endophyte free (except BarOptima).

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