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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: A Bright Future for Grasses

Authors
item Casler, Michael
item Undersander, D - UW-MADISON

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 13, 2005
Publication Date: January 18, 2005
Citation: Casler, M.D., Undersander, D.J. 2005. A bright future for grasses. In:Proceedings of Wisconsin Fertilizer, Aglime, and Pest Management Conference, January 18-20, 2005, Madison, Wisconsin. p. 298-301.

Technical Abstract: Management-intensive rotational grazing systems in the northern USA are grass-based systems. For some grass species, there is a huge amount of variability among varieties, with some varieties being more suitable for grazing than others. The purpose of this paper is to describe some recent research aimed at developing better grasses for management-intensive rotational grazing systems. Spring Green festulolium has improved freezing tolerance, measured as plant or tiller survival at -12°F. This resulted in improved survival under field conditions. Over 1 million pounds of seed have been sold during the past 5 years, marking the success of this variety. WMF1 meadow fescue has 8% higher forage yield, 34% higher forage intake, and 20% higher preference under rotational grazing than tall fescue. This variety is currently in the seed multiplication phase and will be named and released in 2005 or 2006. WR00 reed canarygrass had 41% higher ground cover and 28% more tillers than Rival, the best of the commercial varieties. This improvement could be explained by increased seedling vigor, as measured by seedling root and shoot weight. This variety is currently in the seed multiplication phase and will be named and released in 2005 or 2006. We have found some orchardgrass plants with heading genes that are controlled by winter temperatures – they don’t head following cold winters, but head-out normally after warm winters. We have selected the best of these plants and have sent them to four mild-winter locations in the western USA to check for seed production. If we are able to produce seed on these plants, we will bring them back to Wisconsin and neighboring states to determine the reliability of the non-heading characteristic and identify the environmental conditions that lead to non-heading plants. We are still a few years from variety development, but a 2005 seed crop will go a long way toward determining feasibility of this idea.

Last Modified: 9/21/2014