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I have a customer that wants to interseed a thining stand of alfalfa with tall fescue.He is after tons for grinding hay for fat cattle.He wants to seed right before freeze up.Any thoughts????My idea of orchard got shot down.Mn/Iowa line.
 

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I would recommend a mix of 75% endophyte free tall fescue/25% orchardgrass by weight, which will be about 50/50 on a seed count basis. To spread your risk even more a 60% meadow brome/30% EF tall fescue/10% orchardgrass mix by weight will give you about 1/3 of each on a seed count basis. Interseed either mix at 10-20 lbs/acre.

Orchardgrass (OG) is widely adapted and well proven choice.

Meadow brome (MB) has good summer growth and is widely adapted, and very persistent and winterhardy.

I have found tall fescue(TF), when moved out of the traditional "fescue belt", to not be as widely adapted. Do not put it on lower fertility or drought prone soils. It will thrive on deep, higher fertility soils, and most irrigated sites. Winterhardiness seems to be at least as good as OG, and usually better. On favorable sites it will usually out yield OG and MB. If the proper TF varieties are selected, feed value can be substantially higher than OG.
I like TF and promote it more and more, but suggest using it alongside other grass species until it is tried and proven on your fields.

I would not recommend a dormant seeding on cool season grasses, although I have seen it work well.
The opportune time, mid August to early September, has passed this season.
Spring seeding can work but be ready to harvest 1st cutting extra early, to open the canopy and reduce competition for the new grass seedlings.

Brad
northeast Nebraska
 

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Praire,Tried to talk them into a mix of TF/Orchard.Also told them about meadow brome.They kinda have thier minds made up.They want something that will produce even in the heat of summer more than orchard.There is some light soil in this field with very high fertility.What kind of tonnage with TF/Alf?How's your Meadow Brome?Tonnage,Quality? I have a 100 acres seeded this spring at 1.5-5# with 18# alfalfa.How far are you from Siuox Falls?I'm 55m east.
 

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just remember that fescue has an endophyte that make it so good and hardy, and unless you are planting an endophyte free seed, weight gain will be reduced by the endophyte and cow breed back is reduced and mares in the last 60-90 days of their gestation absolutly need no fescue due to no milk, prolonged gestation, and enlarged placentas. The flip side here in the south, is the fact that you can have a stand of fescue for 20-30 years, not the typical 4-6 on orchardgrass.
 

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swmnhay said:
Praire,Tried to talk them into a mix of TF/Orchard.Also told them about meadow brome.They kinda have thier minds made up.They want something that will produce even in the heat of summer more than orchard.There is some light soil in this field with very high fertility.What kind of tonnage with TF/Alf?How's your Meadow Brome?Tonnage,Quality? I have a 100 acres seeded this spring at 1.5-5# with 18# alfalfa.How far are you from Siuox Falls?I'm 55m east.
The reason I usually recommend 2-3 grass species with alfalfa is to spread your risk. It will compensate for variability within and between fields, as well as from year to year.

The traditional type TF have the potential to yield at least as much if not more than OG, with similiar quality. By traditional types I am referring to the early -medium maturing, wide, coarse leafed varieties.

The soft, lax leaf, high quality types are generally medium-late maturing, and can yield as well as OG, but usually less. Quality will be similiar to perennial ryegrass (PRG), much higher than OG.

Meadow brome will yield at the lower end of OG yields, somewhat similiar to the soft leaf TF. MB quality will be similiar to OG.

I am 100 miles south/southwest of Sioux Falls, 30 miles SW of Yanton SD.

Brad
northeast Nebraska
 

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Production Acres said:
just remember that fescue has an endophyte that make it so good and hardy, and unless you are planting an endophyte free seed, weight gain will be reduced by the endophyte and cow breed back is reduced and mares in the last 60-90 days of their gestation absolutly need no fescue due to no milk, prolonged gestation, and enlarged placentas. The flip side here in the south, is the fact that you can have a stand of fescue for 20-30 years, not the typical 4-6 on orchardgrass.
Good point! I edited my original post, specifying endophyte free varieties. Didn't even think of that as I avoid endophyte infected varieties.

The endophyte fungus and tall fescue have a symbiotic relationship. The plant gives the fungus a home, and in return the fungus helps the plant withstand stress such as drought, defoliation, disease, heat, insects, etc. As most of the fungus is concentrated on the stem and seed head, keeping the plant vegetative can help to minimize toxicity.

Endophyte free varieties, lacking the fungus' protection, have a reputation for being less persistent.

Novel or freindly endophyte TF, has had the endophytes removed, and only the "good" endophytes added back. In the fecue belt, persistence is better than TF-, but a little short of TF+. MaxQ-Jessup TF is currently the only variety available, although there is rumor of a upcoming release by another company. While MaxQ Jessup is a traditional type TF, the reputed new variety will be a soft leaf/high quality type.

Endophtye free varieties are sometimes referred to as TF-, while infected varieties as TF+. There are widely varying rates of infection, that can vary due to variety and/or seed lot differences. Some turf type varieties are refferred to as endophyte enhanced or TF++. Once a plant is endophyte free it cannot become reinfected.

As TF is planted north of the traditional "fescue belt", the difference in persistence between TF+ and TF- varieties seems to narrow dramatically. Also the endophytes antiqualities of TF+ seem to not be as severe. This seems to occur starting on a line that follows Interstate 80 east and west.

You are correct about short stand life of OG across most of the fecue belt.
Over most of the upper Midwest and eastern half of the Plains, OG can be very persistent if managed properly and suiteable varieties are selected. Over much of this area, if we would do nothing, smooth brome would show up and dominate, while in your area it would probably be KY31tall fescue. Another good reason to plant more than one grass species with alfalfa, and let your management and mother nature sort it out.

Brad
northeast Nebraska
 

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One of the big problems with TF- in the fescue belt, is that as you are in the Fescue belt, when you have a stand of Orchard/timothy you can see the TF+ comming into the field and over time (5-6years) you can make a judgement to either resow the field or manage it as a mixed grass ie.fescue field. When you sow TF- you have no idea how much TF+ you have in the field in 5 years thus you cannot with any certanity sell the hay as TF-. Thus you might as well sow TF+ and enjoy the endophyte and its benifits to begin with, as well as the cheaper seed price. And on good hay ground, sow something else!
 
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