Forage Grass Seed
Here we would like to mention just a few things about the general advantages of improved varieties. Those advantages are often general and relating to animal or plant performance. There will be grazing types of almost every species and they should perform better under those circumstances. BMR varieties, meaning brown mid-rib, found in summer annuals are more palatable, higher energy and more nutritious than non-BMR varieties. A few species like reed canary grass have improved low alkaloid varieties that are much more palatable especially as they mature than high alkaloid varieties. Some grasses contain endophytes. The benefits associated with endophytes are improved resistance to drought, diseases, insects and nematodes. When endophytes are not present, as in endophyte-free varieties, stand survival can become an issue from the summer heat. The disadvantages associated with the wild endophytes, often called a negative endophytes are reduced feed intake and animal performance, lower conception rates, fescue foot, fescue toxicity, and bovine fat necrosis. Novel or positive ehdophytes do not have the disadvantages of the negative endophytes, but because of the increased intake from livestock, stands can be overgrazed and typically cannot support as many animals per acre. Rotational grazing can prevent overgrazing these stands. Studies have shown that the disadvantages associated with the negative endophyte can be eliminated from having a stand with 25% of something other than negative endophyte grasses. White clovers are the most common pasture solution.
Seed varieties are not always available every year, but substitutes typically are. Special endophtye fescues don't become available until right at seeding time because the seed needs to be fresh to ensure the life of endophyte. Some of our stocked seed are in following lists, but many more varieties are available.
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For more information about forage production and opportunity cost: www.uky.edu/Ag/Forage/KCA2013%20Proceedings%20with%20pictures%20removed.pdf
For more about seeding depths and rates, please see: extension.missouri.edu/p/G4652