Four new tall fescues with novel endophytes are now on the market to help fight fescue toxicity.
Switching to a novel-endophyte fescue is a process, says Chris Agee, forage agronomist with Pennington Seed, which offers Texoma MaxQII.
“It’s not cheap to replace pasture with anything, and I generally tell producers to plant 10-20% a year,” he says. Texoma MaxQII combines a non-toxic endophyte with a tall fescue with improved heat and drought tolerance for areas like the Central Plains but excellent cold tolerance for Eastern growers.
Introduced last fall, its seed will be in limited supply this coming fall.
Mountain View Seeds’ Estancia with ArkShield translates into increased animal weight gain, says Aaron Kuenzi, its marketing manager.
“It doesn’t matter how much grass we produce; it matters how efficiently the animal uses it and whether that turns into milk or beef. This product is designed more for the transition zone to the Southern region,” Kuenzi says. It’s a medium-maturing variety.
He sees the variety as a good fit with Roundup Ready alfalfa, which the company is marketing with the rest of America’s Alfalfa’s lineup.
“One of the issues with these novel-endophyte tall fescues is, if you don’t completely kill the toxic endophyte stands, you may get a lot of the old Kentucky 31 or toxic endophyte growing back two or three years later.” Glyphosate can be used on Roundup Ready alfalfa seeded into old fescue to effectively clean up areas.
Duramax Armor offers good dry matter yield, persistence and early growth when moisture is available, says Jerome Magnuson, turf and forage sales representative with DLF International Seeds.
The combination will work well from southeastern Kansas all the way to the East Coast. “It has also done well, as far as trials go, as far north as Cornell in New York,” he says.
BarOptima Plus E34 is a soft-leaf, highly digestible beneficial-endophyte tall fescue that persists, says Peter Ballerstedt, Barenbrug USA forage product manager. It’s well-adapted to the traditional fescue belt; Western producers with irrigation are also interested in the tall fescue, he says.
The new tall fescues need a higher level of grazing management, Ballerstedt and Agee warn.
“Unlike the Kentucky 31 and toxic types that rarely get overgrazed, you can certainly overgraze these novel endophytes,” Agee says. “That’s a classic Catch 22, because the poor animal gains that you have on Kentucky 31 are due to lack of intake. Part of that improved animal performance on the novels is increased intake. It’s almost doubled and that translates to animal performance.”