Submitted to: Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/20/2004
Publication Date: 1/20/2004
Citation: Reed, K.F., Clement, S.L., Feely, N.F., Clark, B. 2004. Improving tall fescue (fetuca arundinacea) for cool season vigour. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture. V. 44. p. 873-881. Interpretive Summary: Since the 1965 release of the endophyte-free tall fescue cultivar Demeter in Australia, tall fescue has been a common pasture grass in southeast Australia. However, the availability of a summer-dormant, highly winter active tall fescue cultivar would encourage greater use of this pasture grass in lower rainfall areas of southeast Australia. This research was undertaken to assess the seasonal growth of the winter active cultivar Melik and Melik Select in southwest Victoria, Australia, and to compare growth with that of commercial cultivars and Mediterranean accessions that might have potential value for use in southeast Australia. Because Mediterranean tall fescue accessions exhibit a high infection frequency of Neotyphodium fungal endophytes, which produce alkaloids toxic to grazing livestock, this research also recorded the absence of endophytes and the presence of diverse endophyte strains in the Mediterranean accessions evaluated for cool season vigor. This research is important because it shows that cooperative research between USDA-ARS and Australian scientists can identify valuable tall fescue germplasm and fungal endophyte strains for use by breeding programs in both the U.S. and Australia.
Technical Abstract: Winter production of Melik, a winter-active tall fescue cultivar, was superior to widely used cultivars in South West Victoria, Australia. Melik Select, a selection from Melik, produced 55% of its annual yield in winter, compared to 33% for Demeter, a commercial cultivar. Melik Select also exhibited greater crown rust resistance and higher persistence compared to Demeter and other cultivars after 7 years of rotational grazing by sheep. A 3 year field study also confirmed the importance of Mediterranean tall fescue material as a source of vigorous growth during the cool season in south Australia, and the existence of diverse Neotyphodium endophyte strains in Mediterranean tall fescue. Melik Select was superior to other cultivars and accessions in both cool and warm seasons.