Guide to Successfully Replacing Endophyte Infected KY-31 Pastures with Novel Endophyte Tall Fescue

The previous article discussed the value of cutting early to improve hay quality. IMG_7282An excellent way to further improve both hay and pasture quality is to replace your  KY-31 infected pastures with one of the new novel endophyte tall fescue varieties. These varieties contain a novel (beneficial) endophyte that improves stand longevity without the livestock toxicity of KY-31 fescue. The first novel endophyte variety, Jesup MaxQ, was released over 10 years ago and now there are 8 varieties that contain novel endophytes. All of these varieties have a two part name: the first is the variety name and the second is the name of the novel endophyte.

If you are considering planting a novel endophyte variety into a field that contains KY-31 toxic fescue, now is the time to get started. Pennington Seed has developed a simple step by step process for successful establishment in the fall. This procedure allows you to  eliminate existing KY-31 plants. This system works for establishing any new forage stand. Many producers in Kentucky have used this procedure to establish novel fescue.

In Spring & Summer Prior to Fall Planting

➢ Prevent toxic KY-31 fescue plants from going to seed by close grazing, haying or clipping. ➢ Apply fertilizer and lime as recommended by a soil test. ➢ Use pasture as normal for grazing and/or hay. ➢ Do not feed toxic fescue hay in fields to be planted.

In Mid-Summer Prior to Planting

➢ Closely graze or harvest excess forage for hay. ➢ Remove livestock and apply 2.0 qts./acre of Roundup WeatherMax® or glyphosate equivalent four to six weeks prior to expected planting date to kill existing weeds and grasses.

In Fall Just Prior to Planting

➢ To kill any weed and grass escapes (even if no green leaf tissue is visible), apply an additional 1.5 qts/acre Roundup WeatherMax® or glyphosate equivalent immediately prior to or just after no-till drilling MaxQ® tall fescue. ➢ Apply fertilizer as recommended for fescue establishment. ➢ Plant by no-tilling novel fescue seed into stubble or by seeding it into a firm, tilled seedbed. ➢ Plant seed 1/4” to 1/2” deep. Deeper planted seed may result in poor emergence. ➢ Do not plant a companion/nurse crop with tall fescue. ➢ Recommended seeding rate is 20 lbs/acre . ➢ Planting dates: late August to mid-September in Kentucky.

(An adjustment to this procedure is to plant an annual grain crop or warm season annual forage in May after an early glyphosate application).