Program focuses on replacing toxic grass
March 05, 2014
Step by step replacement of long-established Kentucky 31, the dominant pasture grass in Missouri that belatedly was discovered to carry a toxic fungus, will be an important topic at a program planned at the Southwest Research Center in Mt. Vernon. It will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Mar. 31, 2014.

The Alliance for Grassland Renewal aims to teach landowners how to eradicate and replant fescue pastures for better production. Until now, most forage lessons have been on ways to alleviate loss.

“We have several novel-endophyte fescue varieties that eliminate the problem,” says Craig Roberts, University of Missouri Extension forage specialist. “Producers that attend the program will learn steps for eradication and reseeding.”

Farmers who have made fescue conversions will be on the panel. “Farmers are our best teachers,” Roberts says. “They have made it work—and learned the dollar returns. Their farm records show the value. Rewards for conversion are high.”

Besides farmers, the teachers are from MU Extension, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and agribusinesses. The Alliance not only educates but also sets quality standards for the new seed.

“Kentucky 31 is one tough grass,” Roberts says. That’s why it is popular—because it survives. But a downside is that it cuts calf growth by at least a half-pound per head per day. At today’s prices, with feeder calves selling for nearly $2 per pound, that’s costly to Missouri farmers. With replacement, we will have huge economic impact. The time is right to take action.”

A fee of $60 is being changed and advance registration is required for the program since seating is limited to 60.

Registration may be made by calling Carla Rathmann at (417) 466-2148 or by sending an e-mail here.

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