Northeastern graziers may be wise to plant complex pasture mixes instead of just one or two species, say researchers at Ohio State University, Penn State University and USDA.

They planted a range of forage mixtures in 2001, and measured forage production in 2002. The number of species ranged from one to nine.

The highest-yielding treatment at all sites had only one or two species. However, in most cases the yield wasn't significantly different from the nine-species treatment.

The researchers concluded that one or two of the best-adapted species might perform best. But they say the difficulty in predicting which species to use, and variation in the best species between spring and summer, suggests that forage production might be most easily maximized by planting up to 12 species.