Submitted to: Agricultural Research Service Publication
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/1/2000
Publication Date: 7/1/2000
Citation: Brauer, D.K. 2000. Changing the grass that middle america loves and hates. Agricultural Research Service Publication. p. 2.
Technical Abstract: As tall fescue goes, so goes Middle America, or at least 100,000 owners of small farms in the southeast. The Southeast's Tall Fescue Belt stretching from Arkansas and Missouri to Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia coincides with a Small-Farm Belt. Any major improvements in fescue would have a significant impact on these farmers. Many farmers love fescue because they can practically plant it and forget it. The problem is that the reason fescue grows so well is also the reason farmers have a love-hate relationship with it: it's infected with a fungus. The fungus helps fescue survive tough conditions. However, the fungus also causes fescue to produce toxins which reduce the health and production of animals grazing it. ARS is proud to be a part of about a quarter century of research to help these farmers by lessening the impact of fescue toxicosis, the name for the problems created for cattle by fungus-produced toxins. Seed companies and universities, many working with ARS scientists, are closer to their goal of producing a combination of fescue and fungus that survives tough conditions and does not decrease animal health or production. The first of such tall fescue variety should be avaible fall 2000. University of Georgia scientists in Athens, working with a seed company, developed the new variety, called MaxQ. The issues involved in the tall fescue-endophyte story are complex and no single solution will solve all the problems. There are countless acres where infected tall fescue will not be replaced by friendly-endophyte or endophyte-free tall fescue. In those cases, research is needed on how to manage livestock and forages to minimize the impact of fescue toxicosis.