UK helps producer renovate hayfield

by Katie Pratt, University of Kentucky

When Anderson County livestock producer Mike Wilson bought a 60-acre hayfield in Franklin County, he knew he had a lot of work in front of him.

The previous owners had let people cut hay for nearly 30 years without putting any nutrients back into the ground, which meant the existing grass stand was a mixture of Kentucky 31 tall fescue and weeds. Continue reading

Mid-winter weed IPM

From the Georgia Center for Urban Agriculture

by Greg Huber, University of Georgia

Weeds can be a major pest of lawns and recreation fields, competing for resources and sunlight while detracting from their natural beauty.

If your spring checklist includes lawn weed management, now is the time to take a closer look at the tiny mat of weed seedlings forming in mid-winter (Jan-Feb.), especially during spells of mild weather and precipitation. The winter-weed inventory is likely to include a mix of early-stage cool-season annual and perennial weeds such as chickweed, henbit, clover, annual bluegrass, burweed, and wild garlic. One advantage of mid-winter weed scouting and management is that many weeds are in the early growth stages and can be effectively controlled by herbicide treatments. In addition, warm-season turfgrasses such as bermudagrass and zoysiagrass are dormant and less susceptible to herbicide injury than during spring green up. Mid-winter is an excellent time to scout for cool-season weed species and get an early jump on management while conditions are favorable. Continue reading

Fungus on tall fescue may cause losses in livestock

in Southeast Farm Press

Tall fescue is a popular grass used for grazing, hay and erosion control in the eastern United States, but one Clemson University expert believes this grass could be responsible for more than $1 billion per year in livestock production losses.

Tall fescue is a perennial bunch-type grass that grows rapidly during spring and fall. The majority of tall fescue plants contain a fungus that creates compounds which are beneficial to the plants, but toxic to livestock. The compounds created by the fungus are called “ergot alkaloids.” Susan Duckett, a professor of animal and veterinary sciences, and some of her students are conducting a study on the impact of these compounds on fetal development and postnatal growth of livestock that graze on tall fescue. Continue reading

Warm winter could affect tall fescue toxicosis in broodmares

by Krista Lea, University of Kentucky

Mild weather this winter is likely the cause of higher than average concentrations of a toxic substance in tall fescue called ergovaline that has been observed in Fayette and Bourbon pastures in Central Kentucky, according to University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment experts,. Tall fescue toxicosis in broodmares, which is caused by ingesting ergovaline, is rare in the early months of the year due to typically cold winter temperatures.

Naturally occurring tall fescue is often infected with an endophytic fungus that can produce ergovaline, a known vasoconstrictor – something that causes the narrowing of blood vessels. This has been blamed for prolonged gestation and low milk production in late term pregnant mares. The UK Horse Pasture Evaluation Program sampled three farms in Fayette and Bourbon counties this year and found a handful pastures with higher than average ergovaline concentrations for the time of year. Continue reading

UK to host tall fescue pasture renovation workshop

by Katie Pratt, University of Kentucky

Anyone who has spent a considerable amount of time around livestock or forages knows tall fescue is a double-edged sword. University of Kentucky forage specialists are teaming up with the Alliance for Grassland Renewal to host a workshop to teach producers how to renovate their old tall fescue pastures with a novel endophyte variety.

The Tall Fescue Renovation Workshop will take place March 9 at UK’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and UK Spindletop Research Farm. Continue reading

Kentucky researcher develops tall fescue variety not toxic to livestock

by Katie Pratt, University of Kentucky

University of Kentucky plant breeder Tim Phillips has developed a new tall fescue variety that is nontoxic to grazing animals.

The variety, Lacefield MaxQ II, is the result of selections Phillips, a member of the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, made from endophyte-free Kentucky 31 and related lines. Phillips named the variety for UK Professor Emeritus Garry Lacefield upon his retirement to honor his numerous contributions to the forage industry and to the college. Continue reading

Fescue toxicosis can lead to summer slump

By Aimee Nielson, University of Kentucky

Tall fescue is a popular grass for Kentucky pastures for many reasons—it is hardy and tolerates drought, has a root system that aids in controlling erosion and can stand up to heavy grazing. Farmers can even stockpile it for winter grazing. However, an endophyte fungus that commonly infects the plant can affect livestock. Summertime tends to be peak time for fungus-related problems.

“Fescue toxicosis is the general term used for the clinical diseases that can affect cattle consuming endophyte-infected tall fescue,” said Michelle Arnold, ruminant extension veterinarian for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “Something important for Kentucky producers to watch for is a syndrome frequently referred to as ‘summer slump.’ Affected cattle appear hot with labored respiration (open mouth and/or rapid breathing) and excessive salivation. They avoid grazing during the day and seek shade or mud wallows to find relief from heat.” Continue reading