Tall Fescue Tiller Weights, Green Forage Present, and Forage IVDMD1
- E. R. Beaty,
- James W. Dobson and
- A. E. Smith2
Tall fescue, Festuca arundinacea Schreb., grows well in the upper South, but following initial growth in the spring, forage quality as measured by animal performance is generally low. Forage quality generally declines from spring to summer and data on forage quality in the summer and fall as related to management are badly needed. To characterize forage present after several months of growth this investigation was undertaken.
Tillers were collected in October from an experiment with whole plots having clipping schedules of (A) monthly/year-long, (B) monthly September to May, (C) monthly December to May, and (D) each time forage reached a height of 15 cm. Split plots were N rates of 56 and 224 kg/ha and split-split plots were clipping heights of 5 and 10 cm. Data collected were tiller weight, percent green and dead forage of tillers, dry matter digestibility (IVDMD) of each, percent green forage/swards, and tillers/dm2. Weights varied from approximately 0.1 to 0.5 g/tiller and were largely determined by clipping frequency and height. Green forage/tiller averaged 56.1%, and other than height of clipping, was largely independent of all applied treatments other than years. Green forage as a percent of all forage present averaged 29.9. Green forage IVDMD averaged 70.9%, and dead forage 42.4%.
The amount of dead forage and its low digestibility would appear to be the dominant factor in determining the digestibility of tall fescue forage. None of the clipping treatments affected a major reduction in the accumulation of dead forage. Defoliation schemes to be effective in maintaining green forage may require harvesting at lower heights than were used in this study. Additional research would be required to develop improved harvesting methods but opportunities for improvement are sizable and progress should be rapid.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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