Comparison of Commercially Available Novel-Endophyte Tall Fescue Forage Varieties now available from NC Cooperative Extension.

The Alliance for Grassland Renewal and the Amazing Grazing Program at North Carolina State University are happy to announce the publication of a new, peer-reviewed fact sheet focused on comparing the novel endophyte tall fescue products available to farmers.  There are currently 7 novel endophtye tall fescue products on the market.  While we often talk about these products as “varieties”,  each product is actually an association of a proven tall fescue variety and a patented non-toxic or “novel” endophyte. The novel endophyte provides the tall fescue with good agronomic performance including long stand life in challenging environments, while not producing significant levels of the toxins that hurt animals.  Tall fescue is truly a “wonder grass”, but how a plant that is infected by a toxic endophyte came to dominate the landscape will make you stop and wonder.

Developing beef replacement heifers grazing Texoma MaxQ2 tall fescue in North Carolina.  Photo by Charlotte Talbott, NCSU Animal Science graduate student.

This novel endophyte tall fescue technology is a very exciting breakthrough that could change the beef industry in the fescue belt if it is adopted at the appropriate level and in appropriate situations.  Unfortunately, renovating pastures to remove toxic tall fescue is a difficult task for many farmers.  This publication can help farmers make decisions about which product to plant.

A team of graduate students advised by the Amazing Grazing faculty at NCSU studied each product including the individual product’s characteristics and adaptions.  The students also researched the origin stories of each product including how the varieties were developed and how the endophytes were discovered and incorporated into the varieties.  These are fascinating stories about how this technology first came to light and then how it has been improved through the collaborative efforts of university advisors, seed company representatives, the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, and other allied industry partners.

Readers will find that there are two major types of products that including traditional leaf and soft leaf types.  Traditional leaf types include: Martin2Protek from DLF Pickseed;  Lacefield MaxQ2, Jesup MaxQ2, and Texoma MaxQ2 from Pennington seed; and Estancia with Arkshield from Mountain Vies Seeds.  The two soft leaf types are TowerProtek from DLF Pickseed, and BarOptima plus E34 from Barenbrug USA.  In addition, Kentucky 31 with the toxic endophyte and Cajun (a good endophyte-free variety) are also discussed for comparison.

Whether you are thinking about planting a straight stand of tall fescue, or using tall fescue as part of a diverse mix, novel endophyte tall fescue is the preferred type across the lower 2/3 of the tall fescue belt.  There are rare times when endophyte-free or toxic infected tall fescue might be recommended and that is also discussed in the publication.

A mobile friendly version of NCSU AG-910 is available here

A printer friendly version is available here

~ Matt Poore


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

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