Selecting a Good Grass Variety

Selecting a Good Grass Variety

by Dan Undersander

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  1. 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.
  2. Select tested varieties to ensure adequate winterhardiness (brown rectangles in trials shown at right are orchardgrass varieties with insufficient winterhardiness).
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  3. 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.
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  4. 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).
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  5. 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.