Just how ‘hot’ is tall fescue?

It is expected that the vast majority of tall fescue in Georgia and other places in the U.S. is infected by the toxic endophyte, but there is a lack of clear and precise information about the nature and extent of endophyte infection in the tall fescue stands. To address this lack of information, we conducted a survey to assess the severity of toxic endophyte infection in tall fescue critical to the beef cattle industry in Georgia. This baseline survey was conducted with a grant funding from the Georgia Commodity Commission for Beef Cattle to have a preliminary assessment of the extent and severity of toxic endophyte infection in the 1 million acres of tall fescue in Georgia.

Figure 1. A map showing the severity of endophyte infection in fescue pastures in various Georgia counties observed through this study.

All 50 tall fescue fields sampled from 21 counties turned out to be severely infected by endophyte. Except for one sample from Walker County which had 70% infected tillers, and three from Upson County that had a mean infection level of73%, the mean infection levels in the rest of the samples from 19 counties varied from 87% to 100%. The lowest infection of 25% was observed in a pasture from Upson County, but the other two pastures from this county had 95% and 100% infection. The mean infection level for the whole study was 94% with a median of 100%. Out of 56 samples tested, 30 had 100% infected tillers. Thus, we found endophyte infection in the tall fescue fields in Georgia
is widespread and mostly severe. A color-coded map using the mean endophyte infection levels observed in the 21 counties is presented in Figure 1.

Read the full article here.

~ Uttam Saha and Lisa Baxter, University of Georgia

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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