Monday, November 2, 2009
Convention Center, Exhibit Hall BC, Second Floor
Meadow fescue (Schedonorus pratensis (Huds.) P. Beauv.) has great potential as a component of temperate forage-livestock systems. We compared the response of ‘Bartura’ (a commercial variety), ‘Hidden Valley’ (a variety derived from a localized ecotype), and ‘Azov’ (a variety derived from germplasm collections) meadow fescue with ‘Bronc’ orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) and ‘Barolex’ soft-leaf tall fescue [Schedonorus phoenix (Scop.) Holub] to harvest interval and residual stubble height (RSH) for two years. Grasses were harvested infrequently (hay management; three times with a 40- to 55-d harvest interval) or frequently (rotational grazing management; six times or when sward height reached approximately 25 cm) at a 5- or 10-cm RSH. Greatest annual yield was produced by harvesting grasses infrequently at 5-cm RSH (8400 kg/ha) and least by harvesting frequently at 10-cm RSH (5200 kg/ha). All varieties had similar annual yield the first year, but orchardgrass and tall fescue yielded 900 to 1300 kg/ha more DM than all meadow fescue varieties the second year. Neutral detergent fiber (NDF) differences among grasses were relatively small when harvested infrequently. When harvested frequently, NDF of orchardgrass and tall fescue was usually greater than that of the meadow fescue varieties. Meadow fescue NDF digestibility was 3 to 5% greater than that of tall fescue or orchardgrass at each harvest across RSH, year, and location. When harvested at a recommended 10-cm RSH for two years, persistence of Hidden Valley was equivalent to that of tall fescue and greater than that of orchardgrass or the other meadow fescue varieties. The nutritive value advantage meadow fescue has over tall fescue and orchardgrass may compensate for its lower annual yield.