Selecting Winter Forages to Follow Warm Season Annuals.
Following last summer’s drought, many beef producers converted thin tall fescue stands into annual rotations of cool and warm season forages to provide emergency forage. Most of the summer species like sorghum x sudan, pearl millet, or crabgrass are already planted and are producing high-quality forage. While annuals have a place in many forage systems, they require yearly planning and planting. Now is a good time to begin thinking about what species will follow these warm season annuals and also consider the condition and productivity of all pastures on the farm.
Consider “reconverting” these fields to a non-toxic, persistent and productive “novel endophyte tall fescue”. Having already limed, fertilized, and sprayed before the annual crop, the field is 2/3 of the way into the widely recommended “spray-smother-spray” eradication process.
Graze the annual grasses close and in late summer spray with a nonselective herbicide. This will terminate the warm season forage crop, eliminate any weeds and remaining toxic fescue. No-till drill a certified novel endophyte tall fescue. Make sure the seed comes with the Alliance for Grassland Renewal label indicating it meets the established standards for novel endophyte tall fescue. With favorable fall moisture and well-timed fertilizer application, the new stand of nontoxic fescue should provide limited spring grazing and be ready to produce heavily next fall and for years to come. Since most of the cost of establishment has already been accomplished, it is a very cost effective opportunity to establish this exceptional type of perennial forage.
Reach out to your local Extension agent, a Grassland Renewal Alliance member or a state forage specialist for more specific information related to novel endophyte tall fescue conversion options appropriate for your region and operation.
The Alliance for Grassland Renewal is a national organization focused on enhancing the appropriate adoption of novel endophyte tall fescue technology through education, incentives, self-regulation and promotion. For more resources or to learn more about the Alliance For Grassland Renewal, go to www.grasslandrenewal.org