Tall Fescue Yield, Tillering, and Invaders as Related to Management1
- James W. Dobson2,
- E. R. Beaty3 and
- C. D. Fisher2
Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) is widely grown as a winter perennial forage in the upper South. It is primarily used for cool-season grazing by cattle producers, and improved digestibility and increased fall and winter forage production would be useful. A field experiment was conducted for 3 years on a tall fescue sod growing on a member of fine loamy mixed family of Cumulic Haplumbrepts to establish the effect of four clipping schedules, 5- and 10-cm clipping heights and 56- and 224-kg/ha N-rates on dry forage yields, tiller numbers, and percent invaders.
Forage yields varied from slightly more than 3,600 kg/ha when fertilized with 56 kg/ha of N and clipped at a height of 10 cm to more than 8,820 kg/ha when fertilized with 224 kg/ha N and clipped at 5 cm. Reducing the clipping height from 10 to 5 cm increased average forage yield from 5,512 to 6,735 kg/ha or 22%. Increasing N fertilization from 56 to 224 kg/ha doubled dry forage production from 4,137 to 8,111 kg/ha. Tillers/unit area were highest at the 5-cm clipping height, 224 kg/ha rate, and frequent clipping schedule. Lowest numbers of tillers/area were obtained on plots clipped at 10 cm, fertilized with 56 kg/ha N, and clipped infrequently.
Invaders were limited almost exclusively to plots clipped at a height of 5 cm where 56 kg/ha N was applied. Very few invaders were present on plots clipped at 10 cm. More invaders were present on 56-kg/ha N plots than on 224-kg/ha N plots.
Tall fescue responded to management treatments applied. However, it is probable that new treatments can be developed that will more uniformly distribute forage production through the season, facilitate the introduction of invaders (clovers), and stabilize tillers/area for increased fall and winter growth and improve forage quality (digestibility). These additions would add appreciably to the value of tall fescue as a forage crop in the Southeast.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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