Assessment of stockpiling methods to increase late summer and early fall forage biomass

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Virginia Tech

As one of the major forage crops of the United States management programs to optimize stockpiled tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) can potentially increase livestock profitability.  This study consists of two experiments designed to assess different aspects of summer stockpiling.  Experiment 1 evaluated the effects of summer stockpiling endophyte infected Kentucky 31 tall fescue on biomass and nutritive value of tall fescue forage.  Treatments included four whole plot treatments (two nitrogen (N) application timing, legume inclusion, and control) each divided into sub-plot cut and no cut treatments.  The cut treatment consisted of a single cutting taken in May.  Nitrogen in the form of urea was applied at a rate of 56 kg/ha for the March N treatment and for the June N treatment.  Yield and quality of summer stockpiled fescue was adequate to support dry beef cows.  Experiment 2 evaluated the effects of summer stockpiling on the biomass yield and nutritive value of three types of tall fescue with N fertilization (endophyte infected (E+), endophyte-free (E-), and novel endophyte (MaxQ)) and four species of native warm-season grasses without N fertilization (switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii Vitman), indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans (L.) Nash), and little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash)).  Native warm-season grasses produced much higher yields than all tall fescue types but the nutritive value was not adequate to support the nutrient requirements of livestock.  Summer stockpiled tall fescue is a viable resource to provide low requirement animals with quality forage during late summer and early fall.

tall fescue, stockpiling, forage