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Grass species and two-cut management

Tall Fescue (Stargrazer), reed canarygrass (Palaton), Timothy (Tiller), smooth bromegrass (York), and orchardgrass (Artic) were sown at Ithaca in 1996 and Mt. Pleasant in 1997 to compare species under 3 rates of K fertilization with 100 lbs actual N fertilizer applied prior to each of two cuts per season. Average yields for 1998-1999 for Mt. Pleasant and 1997-2001 for Ithaca are shown in the Table. The higher elevation Mt. Pleasant site averaged 23% lower yields than Ithaca. At the Ithaca site with the deeper, soil resource, 65% of the total yield occurred in the spring, compared to 75% for Mt. Pleasant. Split application of K fertilizer after spring and fall harvests did increase DM yield and K uptake, compared to the 0 K treatment. Potassium deficiency symptoms were not observed on any of the grass species, although K concentration in fall harvested forage dropped below 0.8% in timothy. Forage quality also was not greatly affected by K fertilization, although it did affect forage K concentration and concentrations of some other elements.

Conclusions:

  • Potassium fertilization did not have a large effect on DM yield of cool-season perennial grasses under a low intensity harvest management regime.
  • Timothy forage tended to be low in elemental concentrations in general, with lowest forage K concentrations among the five grass species.
  • It was possible to achieve sufficiently low forage K concentrations for non-lactating dairy cow forage in all five cool-season grasses and maintain stand persistence.
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