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Summer-dormant tall fescue grass shows promise for pasture improvements
Date:11/26/2007

VERNON A pasture improvement research program by Dr. Dariusz Malinowski has him looking at summer-dormant tall fescue grasses as an alternative to winter wheat pastures.

But these arent the typical tall fescue grasses grown in many parts of the nation, said Malinowski, a Texas Agricultural Experiment Station forage agronomist in Vernon. They are from the Mediterranean Basin of southern Europe and northern Africa.

Our climate is changing here, he said. Its been getting warmer and drier since the mid-90s.

This climate change has made wheat-grasses and wheat pasture a less-viable option than in the past, Malinowski said. In his search for a replacement option, summer-dormant cool-season perennial grasses that start turning green and grow with the first rains in September are showing the most promise.

The Mediterranean summer-dormant cool-season perennial grasses such as tall fescue, orchardgrass, ryegrass and hardinggrass grow under conditions of mild winters and hot, dry and long summers, he said.

At one time, the southern Great Plains had its peak rainfalls in May and September, but that precipitation pattern doesnt exist now, Malinowski said.

This year is one of the many examples, he said. Wheat is not growing because there has been no moisture. So we think these perennial summer-dormant grasses are a viable option.

Malinowski said the plots he planted seven years ago at the beginning of the research are still thriving. One year the plots only received 15 inches of rain, which is similar to the rainfall where they originated.

Work by Malinowski and his forage program team, in a partnership with AgResearch Grasslands of New Zealand, has led to two cultivars of summer-dormant tall fescue being introduced to the U.S. market: Grasslands Flecha MaxQ (AgResearch Grasslands New Zealand/Pennington Seeds) and Prosper (Heritage Seeds Australia/Barenbrug USA).

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Contact: Dariusz Malinowski
dmalinow@ag.tamu.edu
940-552-9941
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications
Source:Eurekalert

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