Date of this Version
Applied Agricultural Research Vol. 5, No.3, pp. 188-194
Agronomic differences between endophyte- (Acremonium coenophialum Morgan Jones and Gams) free and endophyte-infected tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) exist, and should be considered when implementing a management strategy. Although dry matter yield of tall fescue does not generally appear to be influenced by endophyte infection status, endophyte infection has been shown to improve seedling performance and survival, is associated with insect and nematode resistance, drought resistance, improved nitrogen assimilation, and higher seed set. Considering all biologically valuable characters of the endophyte-tall fescue relationship, survival of endophyte-infected tall fescue is probably better than that of endophyte-free tall fescue, especially in drought- or heat-stressed environments. Despite problems which growers have reported in establishing stand; of endophyte-free tall fescue varieties, there is still a decided advantage to seeding endophyte-free tall fescue because of improved livestock performance. However, greater attention to management is needed, particularly during the establishment year. Good seedbed preparation, including fertility improvements, should be stressed for endophyte-free tall fescue. Since endophyte-free tall fescue seedlings are not as vigorous as endophyte-infected tall fescue seedlings, using other grasses as nurse crops, or seeding with clovers, is not recommended when establishing new stands. Environmental or imposed stress on newly established endophyte-free tall fescue stands should be avoided by selecting optimum planting dates, and limiting livestock access. Top growth should not be grazed or clipped shorter than 3-4 in. (7-10 cm) during the first year of growth.