Most member states of the Alliance for Grassland Renewal have planted many or all of the available varieties of novel endophyte tall fescue to use in research and extension programs. Some of these plantings have been used only for demonstration, but more detailed research has also been conducted. For example, the University of Kentucky has collected data on many of the varieties in their official Forage Variety Test Program. That work shows that the varieties tested are quite similar in the Kentucky environment.
At NCSU, we have many environments, including the Mountains, Piedmont and Coastal Plain. Fescue is not adapted to most soils in the Coastal Plain, but is broadly adapted to the other two regions, though we don’t know how these diverse environments will affect individual varieties.
In the autumn of 2019, we established a study at three locations including the Mountains (Waynesville), South Central Piedmont (Salisbury) and the Northwest Piedmont (Bahama) under the leadership of Dr. Diedre Harmon. There are 4 replicates of 9 varieties in the study including Martin 2 + Protec and Tower + Protec (DLF PickSeed), Bar Optima plus E34 (Barenbrug USA), Estancia (Mountain View Seeds), and Jesup MaxQ II, Texoma MaxQ II, and Lacefield MaxQ II (Pennington Seed and Ag Research USA). In each case (except Estancia) the endophyte name follows the variety name….for example Martin 2 is the tall fescue variety and Protec is the endophyte. This is an important point because several of these are also sold as endophyte-free varieties targeted north of the “Fescue Belt”. These varieties are those currently screened by the Alliance for Grassland Renewal for their compliance with our internal quality control standards. Look for the Alliance label when you purchase these products.
The study also includes a good endophyte-free tall fescue, Cajun 2, and Kentucky 31 with wild-type endophyte (toxic). We just completed our first harvest and the stands of all varieties look very strong at all the locations. We anticipate this study going on for at least 3 years, and similar efforts are in the ground in other states. The team of students working on this project (Kendra Phipps, Charlotte Talbot, and Madeline Newsome) are also writing the history of each of the novel endophyte tall fescue products on the market, so stay in tune for that in a future newsletter.
We wish to thank the NC Cattlemen’s Association for their generous support of this project. ~ Dr. Matt Poore, NC State Professor and Alliance for Grassland Renewal President.
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