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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: REDESIGNING FORAGE GERMPLASM AND PRODUCTION SYSTEMS FOR EFFICIENCY, PROFIT, AND SUSTAINABILITY OF DAIRY FARMS Title: Meadow Fescue in the Driftless Region

Author
item Casler, Michael

Submitted to: Popular Publication
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: July 16, 2009
Publication Date: September 1, 2009
Citation: Casler, M.D. 2009. Meadow Fescue in the Driftless Region. Graze. 15(6):8.

Interpretive Summary: We have identified meadow fescue on over 250 farms in the driftless region of SW Wisconsin, NW Illinois, NE Iowa, and SE Minnesota. Most plants are similar in appearance, and their habitats range from wet bottomlands to dry hilltops; dense monocultures to highly degraded pastures with few meadow fescue plants; and full sun to deep shade. All plants tested to date have the fungal endophyte (a plant growing with another plant) living inside their stems. We know that this fungus helps the plant to survive stresses such as heat and drought, but it does not produce any chemicals that are toxic to livestock. The highest density of meadow fescue occurs along the historic Military Ridge Trail of SW Wisconsin, implying that this grass was introduced during the early settlement of Wisconsin and spread largely within protection of U.S. Army outposts. Meadow fescue has potential for becoming an important grass variety option on pasture-based farm.

Technical Abstract: We have identified meadow fescue on over 250 farms in the driftless region of SW Wisconsin, NW Illinois, NE Iowa, and SE Minnesota. Most plants are similar in appearance and their habitats range from wet bottomlands to dry hilltops, dense monocultures to highly degraded pastures with few meadow fescue plants, and full sun to deep shade. All plants tested to date have the fungal endophyte living inside their stems. The endophyte does not produce any chemicals that are toxic to livestock. The highest density of meadow fescue occurs along the historic Military Ridge Trail of SW Wisconsin, implying that this grass was introduced during the early settlement of Wisconsin and spread largely within protection of U.S. Army outposts.

Last Modified: 4/20/2014