There has been a great deal of interest over the last several years in the novel or "friendly" endophyte-infected tall fescue varieties. These varieties have the potential to provide quality cool-season perennial forage without the negative attributes of the older toxic endophyte-infected tall fescues. We often recommend planting these novel endophyte tall fescues for those operations where we believe they fit the forage flow needs and have the right environment to be productive. The decision to make this recommendation is never easy since the seed costs alone can range from $75 to $100+ per acre. If we are going to recommend that type of investment, we want to do everything possible to ensure its success.
There are many possible reasons for establishment failure, some of which we have control over and some we do not. Some of those we can control include tillage type, seed bed preparation, proper soil fertility, use of good quality seed that has been properly stored (to protect endophyte viability), planting date, and proper grazing or haying management. At several locations in the fall of 2007, we had producers experience establishment failures even when following most best management practices. After reviewing the failures, we determined the common cause was annual ryegrass competition with the seedling tall fescue plants. Being an annual, the ryegrass seedlings grew more vigorously and overwhelmed the tall fescue seedlings.
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