Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Meadow Fescue: The Forgotten Grass

Author
item Casler, Michael

Submitted to: Forage Focus
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 9, 2007
Publication Date: December 15, 2007
Citation: Casler, M.D. 2007. Meadow Fescue: The Forgotten Grass. Midwest Forage Association, Forage Focus Magazine. December, 2007. p. 20.

Interpretive Summary: In the early 1900s, before tall fescue was introduced to the USA, meadow fescue was a major pasture crop east of the Mississippi River, with millions of acres of seed production in the mid-south. Most of those acres have disappeared with the introduction and spread of other grasses which are perceived to have higher forage yield potential, including tall fescue. We have discovered hundreds of farms on which meadow fescue survived intensive row cropping in the hilly, driftless (unglaciated) area of SW Wisconsin, NW Illinois, NE Iowa, and SE Minnesota. These populations of meadow fescue appear to have superior tolerance to drought, winter temperatures, shade, and diseases. Individual plants are capable of surviving for many years in some of these harsh environments. Agronomic, breeding, genetic, and ecological studies are underway to identify the origin, agronomic value, and adaptation of these populations. Our goal is to develop new varieties of meadow fescue that will have positive impact on long-term production and sustainability of grazing operations in humid temperate regions of North America.

Technical Abstract: In the early 1900s, before tall fescue was introduced to the USA, meadow fescue was a major pasture crop east of the Mississippi River, with millions of acres of seed production in the mid-south. Most of those acres are long gone with the spread of its high-yielding cousin, tall fescue. We have discovered hundreds of farms on which meadow fescue survived intensive row cropping in the hilly, driftless (unglaciated) area of SW Wisconsin, NW Illinois, NE Iowa, and SE Minnesota. These populations of meadow fescue appear to have superior tolerance to drought, winter temperatures, shade, and diseases. Individual plants are capable of surviving for many years in some of these harsh environments. Agronomic, breeding, genetic, and ecological studies are underway to identify the origin, agronomic value, and adaptation of these populations.

Last Modified: 7/31/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page