SPECIES OF THE MONTH


TALL FESCUE (Festuca arundinaceae)

Tall fescue is a perennial cool season grass that can produce for as long as nine months per year. It produces well during winter, but peak production is in spring and autumn. In warm areas production can slowdown in mid-winter. In very hot areas production will come to a standstill during summer.

Tall fescue is exceptionally suited to moist areas, well adapted to heavy clay soils and can survive periods of water logging. Avoid well drained highland or light sandy soils and warm northern slopes. Soil fertility should be high, the P content should be above 25 mg/kg and the K content above 120 mg/kg.

In areas, with less than 700 mm rainfall, this perennial grass should be established under irrigation. In all-year-round rainfall areas, with 700 mm and more per annum, it can be grown under rain fed conditions.

Production potential of Tall Fescue

Annual
Precipitation       Suggested
Fertilizer           Possible
Production
                          N kg/ha    DM/ha

700 mm plus          120-160kg    6-9 t/ha
  Strategic Irrigation  160-200kg    9-12 t/ha
   Full irrigation           200-250kg   12-15 t/ha​
 

Planting date:

Autumn/early winter (March/May)

Spring in cool areas 
(Sept-Oct)

Seeding rate:

Rows: 10-15 kg/ha
Broadcast: 20 kg/ha
Irrigated: 20-25 kg/ha

Sowing depth:

Max 5 mm, 
firm seedbed and roll

Tolerances:

Drought – periodic - fair
Frost - tolerant
Water logging - tolerant
Low fertility - poor to fair

 


Seedlings are sensitive to weed competition and for that reason establishment in autumn will be better.


Management – High producing animals like dairy cows or fat lambs, should graze Tall Fescue at a young stage. Prevent the grass from growing too tall as animal production might be influenced negatively. It is not so critical in the case of beef animals or other low producing livestock. Utilize at a grazing height of between 15 and 35 cm, with a 30 day maximum grazing interval.

When Tall fescue is combined with a legume (red or white clover), it has excellent applications for all classes of livestock. 

Allow a full seed rest every second year (mow and bale after rest) or an autumn rest every year

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