COLUMBIA, Mo. – The last stop on a four-day series of novel-endophyte fescue schools will be held at Linneus, Mo., March 31.

Many of the Missouri studies of new nontoxic fescues were at the University of Missouri Forage Systems Research Center (FSRC), site of the school.

“FSRC has 150 acres of novel-endophyte tall fescue,” says Dave Davis, superintendent. “We use it with management-intensive grazing systems.”

All commercially available varieties are being compared under grazing in small-plot research, Davis says. The variety plots were seeded in September 2011.

Farmers can see and compare the stands during the daylong school.

“To date, all cultivars have held up well,” Davis said. “One reason for the test was to see how they held up under grazing.”

“We didn’t want to promote new technology only to find that the cultivars did not persist,” he said. An endophyte-free variety promoted about 25 years ago did not survive grazing.

Farmers ask Davis which variety he likes best. “I say any of the novel-endophyte cultivars are better than the infected Kentucky-31 variety they are using.”

Kentucky-31 fescue proves hardy and productive. However, it contains endophyte fungus that makes ergovaline, a toxin. That toxin cuts gains, reduces milk and lowers reproduction.

The most visible loss is fescue foot, which can be fatal. Another sign of infection is cattle standing in ponds to reduce body temperatures.

Plant breeders collected new endophytes to replace the toxic one.

The school teaches establishment and management of the new varieties. Davis used the spray-smother-spray method to kill all infected fescue before seeding the new.

The new stands were seeded just ahead of the 2012 drought. “We hayed them the first year, and then rotationally grazed them,” he said. “I wouldn’t recommend grazing a new seeding during a drought, but we stayed on top of management and the stand survived just fine.”

This is the fourth year of the schools in Missouri. Now, the Alliance for Grassland Renewal, the sponsor, will expand to another state. Oklahoma will have the first such school March 28 at Welch, Okla.

Pasture renovation takes more than buying seed and drilling it in. An almost yearlong process kills the old and establishes the new.

The school’s lessons were fine-tuned in the last four years. “We respond to farmer suggestions,” said Craig Roberts, MU Extension forage specialist, Columbia.

Advance registration is required. “Space is limited,” Roberts says.

To enroll for the FSRC school, contact Racheal Foster-Neal at 660-895-5121 or [email protected].

Other school dates, places and contacts are:

Mar. 28, Welch, Okla., Cherokee Red Barn. Shirley Hudson, 918-542-4576 or [email protected].

Mar. 29, Mount Vernon, Mo., MU Southwest Research Center. Eldon Cole, 417-466-3102 or [email protected].

Mar. 30, Columbia, MU Beef Farm. Lena Johnson, 573-882-7327 or [email protected].

For more information, go to

FSRC is at 21262 Genoa Road, Linneus. To reach the farm, head west from Brookfield on U.S. Highway 36 to Highway FF, then north 6 miles to Genoa Road, then west.

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