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Tall fescue-alfalfa seeding rate studies

New, improved tall fescue cultivars have generated interest in using tall fescue in mixture with alfalfa for dairy forage. Such mixtures are not generally recommended in the Midwest due to the strong competition that alfalfa faces from tall fescue. Initial attempts at alfalfa-fescue mixtures by NYS farmers have generally appeared to be successful, although droughty establishment conditions have resulted in some mixed stands with little fescue. We attempted several studies with a range of fescue seeding rates, with constant alfalfa seeding rate [GIS-13].

Conclusions:

  • Results were variable, primarily impacted by moisture availability after seeding.
  • The fescue component of mixed stands ranged from almost none to over 60% of the mixture, and this range often was not well correlated with the fescue seeding rate.
  • Currently, a 4-6 lb/a fescue seeding rate with alfalfa is suggested.