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Orchardgrass

Orchardgrass is native to Europe, but has been grown in North America for two centuries. The name resulted from the plant’s shade tolerance in orchards, outside of North America it is known as “cocksfoot”. Orchardgrass is a bunchgrass that produces an open sod. The crop is suitable for grazing, hay or silage. Orchardgrass is compatible with alfalfa, but tends to be very competitive, regardless of the initial orchardgrass seeding rate in the mixture. Later maturing cultivars have been developed to make the grass more compatible with alfalfa. Orchardgrass tends to have more leaf disease problems than most other cool-season grasses in the Northeast, and occasionally suffers from winterkill in the Northeast. Orchardgrass cultivars are being developed with a low frequency of heading, to maintain quality for a longer period for grazing use. [GIS-8]