Selecting a Good Grass Variety
by Dan Undersander
- Select high yielding varieties to get up to 4 t/a additional yield per year
- Check UW Extension publication A1525 Forage Variety Update for Wisconsin
- Check website for more detail (https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/forage/)
- Traditional species to avoid:
- Smooth Bromegrass – high yield but 60 to 70% of yield in first cutting with little rest of season.
- Timothy – short lived (2 to 4 years) and lowest yielding grass.
- Select tested varieties to ensure adequate winterhardiness (brown rectangles in trials shown at right are orchardgrass varieties with insufficient winterhardiness).
- Select medium to late mature varieties (cheap seed is early varieties that head before alfalfa is ready to cut). Some varieties head out up to two weeks later than others.
- Select a variety with more consistent yield throughout growing season (variety with a β greater than −2 from forage website (https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/forage/). Some varieties have high percentage of yield in first cutting and little growth the rest of the year (purple line).
- Select orchardgrass, tall fescue, and meadow fescue varieties with rust resistance – rust will reduce yield and reduce animal intake. Rust is orange particles that coat shoes in July and August with walking through fields.