Cool Season Perennial Grasses
Brome grasses or the Genus Bromusis a large family that comprises over 60 different species. It is a cool season grass that is found in Europe, Africa, Australia and North America. It is primarily used as forage and in some areas as erosion control. Some brome grasses can be used alone or in mixes with other grasses and legumes. At Southeast AgriSeeds we carry four different types of brome and they are all quite different from each other in their use and areas of adaptation. Brome grasses have larger seed size than other grasses so attention to drill calibration is important.
“I had Fojtan Festulolium in small North Carolina grass plots (3′ x 10′) that were seeded in February of 2011. We are now going into our third year, and grazing instead of mowing. As of this fall (2012), the Fojtan was doing quite well, rivaling all of the fescue plots there for stand thickness, including Drover, Cajun, Kora, Baroptima and STF 43 and others. The Fojtan had a narrower, slightly darker green leaf than the fescues, and had a softer texture than most of them.”
-Tracy Neff, King’s AgriSeeds Agronomist
Festuloliums are crosses between ryegrass and fescue. The fescue can either be a meadow fescue or a tall fescue. The differences between varieties can be very dramatic. They range from short lived to perennial.They also range in their agronomic traits from ryegrass-like to tall fescue-like. Another caution with festulolium varieties is aftermath heading (summer headiness). Many varieties exhibit a long summer heading period. Our varieties are new releases with a breeding emphasis on high sugars and reduced summer heading. They look and taste like ryegrass but take the summer heat and harsh winters better (from a breeding program in Czech Republic). Like ryegrass, they are best for silage and grazing.
Seed at 30 to 40 lbs/acre for a pure stand.
Kentucky bluegrass is a shorter height sod forming grass that makes a nice smooth looking pasture. Bluegrass spreads by rhizomes and can survive very short grazing. The majority of its forage production is in the spring and fall with its yields usually being relatively low compared to most other pasture species. Its persistence is excellent, but establishment is slow. Bluegrass seed is very fine and a little seed goes a long way.
Meadow fescue, a very winter hardy species, is related to perennial ryegrass. It looks more like ryegrass than tall fescue. Meadow fescue is very palatable but lower yielding than tall fescue. It does very well in cool, moist conditions, but once established it takes heat well. We only recommend meadow fescue to be planted as part of a mixture. We think it will fit organic farms well in that it does not have as high a nitrogen requirement, but is still of high quality. We are currently evaluating two varieties at several sites. Less summer headiness than perennial ryegrass.
Seed at 35 to 45 lbs/acre for a pure stand. Seeding with alfalfa: 3-8 lb/A.
Orchardgrass is an old reliable standby in many parts of the U.S. It is more heat and drought tolerant than most cool season grasses, and thus produces more feed during the summer. Some of the older varieties, such as Potomac and Pennlate, have given orchardgrass a bad reputation for getting diseased in late summer, being clumpy, heading out too early in spring, and not being palatable. Our varieties are far more palatable than most of the older varieties, and also later heading!
When harvesting orchardgrass (grazing or mowing), be sure to leave at least a 3 or 4 inch stubble or it will not persist for more than a few years. Orchardgrass cannot be grazed as hard and often as Ryegrass.
Our orchardgrass varieties are not the old clumpy type. Orchardgrass will do well in areas with less than ideal fertility and moisture, but is not adapted for very wet areas. Orchardgrass is easy to dry and fairly drought tolerant, but does not like wet soils. When cutting leave 3 to 4” of stubble height, to increase productivity and stand life.
Seed at 20 lb/A for pure stands to as little as 3 lb/A with high legume mixtures.
Ryegrass is well known as the highest quality grass. This holds true when it comes to digestibility and sugars, which means higher energy. Cows milk more, stay in better body condition, and may even breed better on a ryegrass diet (versus an orchardgrass or alfalfa diet), whether it’s in a grazing or a high moisture hay system. However, ryegrass is harder to dry and it does not perform well in hot or dry weather.
Seed at 30 to 50 lbs/acre for a pure stand.
Diploid / Tetraploid Blend
Reed canarygrass is slow to establish. Once established it is very productive in a wide range of conditions, including very wet soils to very droughty soils and low pH’s. It is suitable for silage, hay and grazing, but requires high management to get high quality. It goes from high quality to low quality faster than most other species. We carry low alkaloid varieties.
Tall fescue is a very adaptable grass that can grow in wet or dry conditions as well as low or high fertility. It will tolerate more abuse (hoof and wheel traffic) than other grasses, thus it’s good for sacrifice lots, waterways, and outdoor wintering and winter stockpiling. Older varieties have given tall fescue a bad name. Many of the older varieties have very low palatability and some are infected with a toxic endophyte.
Tall fescue deserves more recognition as a hay/haylage crop; especially by large operations. It can utilize a lot of manure and tolerates heavy manure-truck traffic very well. A good tall fescue variety will out-yield orchardgrass by about a ton/acre/year over a five year period (i.e. New York study). In a feeding trial conducted by Dr. Cherney at Cornell, tall fescue haylage produced more milk per cow than orchardgrass or alfalfa haylage. 3 to 4 inch grazing height increases the longevity of tall fescue.
Seed at 35 to 40 lbs/acre for a pure stand.
Timothy is a very palatable grass and is well adapted to heavy soils. Timothy usually has huge production in spring, but it drops off in summer and fall. Slow in fall and very early spring. Seed shallow; no deeper than 1/4” in a firm seedbed. Recommended seeding rate: 10-15 lbs/A.